Though Spring Breakers was released much earlier this year, the film did have its DVD debut this month. And while, yes, even that was a bit of time ago, I still think it’s worth discussing.
Previously, Veronika reviewed The Bling Ring — another film released this year set out to expose the vapid nature of millenials — here on NWN and stated that Spring Breakers did it better. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen The Bling Ring (though I want to) but I’m going to take her word for it.
It’s difficult to watch Spring Breakers and try to decipher whether it is satirical genius or whether it’s a confusing hallucination. Heck, it’s difficult to watch Spring Breakers, period. A family member of mine said “I’m tired of this” and left the room midway.
Casting Disney stars and ABC Family vets for this heightened good-girls-gone-bad story was, in itself, part of the comment the movie is trying to make — succeeding in the process. Unlike, say, Drive, which was falsely advertised as a thrill ride, Spring Breakers intentionally catered to millenials knowing full well they wouldn’t care for it. And it worked, as evidenced by my family member’s experience.
Going in you’d expect a bunch of bikini clad girls to party it up in Florida and get into all kind of shenanigans. Even the film’s publicized genre doesn’t match it. Sure, that’s kind of what happens, but that’s just the surface.
The movie follows Faith (Selena Gomez), a college student with a personality true to her name, and her three friends Britt, Candy, and Cotty (Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, and Rachel Korine) trying to raise funds to “leave this town” and go to the party capital of the world during spring break time: Florida. Problem is, raising money is much more difficult than it appears. So the trio of friends decide to rob a diner.
“Just pretend it’s a video game,” Candy says. In fact, that’s what it feels like: absolutely ridiculous, an absolute farce. But flash-forward (and back and forward again, as is everything in Spring Breakers) to them recounting the story to Faith and you’ll find it’s much more dark than it initially appeared. Britt, Candy, and Cotty are victims of a desensitized society, their sights set on the bottom line where partying and drinking is a notable endgame and where consequences are afterthoughts.
But they aren’t alone. In a series of phone calls, Faith continues to tell her grandmother that she loves it in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Forget the gunshots, forget the jail cells, forget the mass murder, the most terrifying part of the film is when Gomez’s character says this about spring break: “I think we found ourselves here.” She then tells her friends the same while soaking in a pool, claiming they should buy a home because it’s the most herself she’s ever felt, after a couple of days in sun-soaked drunkedness and staring off into a dreamy sunset.
And that’s sort of the point.
But then consequences arrive and a good trip starts to turn bad, in all senses of the phrase. The gang meets Alien (James Franco, who is captivating) who takes things from bad to worse, though most of our frenzied females believe him to be the epitome of everything they were searching for — money, notoriety, and whatever those two things can buy. And, well, I’ll stop there before I spoil the rest.
Spring Breakers works itself like a montage of eye candy (or hallucinogens), crossfading from shot to shot and dialogue to dialogue, to the point where 90 minutes can feel to drag on further than you’d expect. But discipline is one of Spring Breakers‘ lessons, anyway.
It’s never subtle about that and, at points, it repeats itself on loop — sort of like the subjects of its ridicule.