by Jack Henison
‘Spring Breaker’ is the latest film from director Harmony Korine. Korine has become known for making, shall we say very uncompromising films that incorporate surrealism, non-linear narratives and are often experimental. Although regarded highly by his contemporaries who include, Bernardo Bertolucci and Gus Van Sant, he has faced criticism by being labelled an enfant terrible. Whatever you think of him the fact remains that Korine is a modern day auteur and was summed up perfectly by the late great Roger Ebert as follows:
“Korine, who at 25 is one of the most untamed new directors, belongs on the list with Godard, Cassavetes, Herzog, Warhol, Tarkovsky, Brakhage and others who smash conventional movies and reassemble the pieces… Harmony Korine is the real thing, an innovative and gifted filmmaker whose work forces us to see on his terms.”
Now looking back at his oeuvre its arguable that ‘Spring Breakers’ is his most commercial film to date, in that he employs familiar actors, has a fairly straightforward narrative, yet he still maintains his usual director motifs. The story follows 4 college girls who plan a spring break vacation; they don’t have enough money for the trip so rob a cafe. Once they arrive in Florida the wild hedonistic lifestyle catches up with them and the girls soon find themselves in prison, but are bailed out by a bizarre rapper named Alien, played by the always amusing James Franco. Alien lets them join his crime ring, but events soon take a downward spiral for each of them.
The casting is incredibly interesting. Two of the lead girls are played by Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez former Disney princesses and he has obviously cast them in an ironic sense as these roles are completely different to their former screen reputations. In fact Selena Gomez posted tweets urging her young fan base not to sneak into cinema screenings, as they may be shocked by the drug and alcohol usage on display.
Now if I’m being completely honest one person stole the entire film for me and that was James Franco, yes rather embarrassing that in a film filled with beautiful women in bikinis his performance was what kept me engaged. I have been an admirer of his for a while now as his career is somewhat unpredictable, in that respect he reminds me of a young Christopher Walken or Nicolas Cage. Here he is enormously fun to watch and judging from his performance it looks like he’s having a lot of fun up there to. In fact I don’t even think he was acting half the time, I genuinely believe he was having so much fun filming that he wouldn’t go home from the set, so they kept the camera rolling on him till eventually he got tired and left.
I would recommend this film to see as I had as much watching it as James Franco did making it. I personally would suggest you watch ‘Gummo’ Korines debut film first, but for me this is his most accessible film yet.