2012’s Spring Breakers is hard to review as a Brit who has no concept of what Spring Break can really be like. It is a beautifully shot but grim film.
Four college girls want to go on Spring Break to escape their repetitive normal lives, but haven’t the money to pay for it. Three of them resort to robbing a restaurant to remedy this and Spring Break is theirs… only their trip goes in unexpected directions when they befriend a drug dealer.
The film’s gaudy advertisement is deliberate; these girls are airheads of the modern generation, grown up on MTV and broken pop idols, they act with vulgarity and complete ignorance of consequence and their surroundings. Supermodel looks, yes, but utterly unlikable.
The dislike I have for he characters (while quite deliberate of the film) not withstanding, I found the film’s screenplay too obvious for the most part. One of the four girls is somewhat reluctant and is a Christian, being told early on that “she will have a means of escape should things go wrong in life”, and that her friends had “demon blood” and shouldn’t be trusted.
Yikes, foreshadowing much?
From the beginning we get gratuitous shots of bikini clad bodies (it would make Michael Bay blush) nudity, drug and alcohol abuse, during which the scene edits are often exaggerated with the sound of a pistol being reloaded or a gun being fired.
This film is not subtle, nor is it ever light. Spring Breakers is a Natural Born Killers-esque dive into psychosis and depravity. We watch as outsiders as four thoughtless, stupid girls are lost because they don’t understand the gravity of their situation.
It is a hard film to like. Critics praise it and the public despise it. On the surface it may appear to be heartless, empty and shallow… but those problems are central to the characters, the girls are all of those things and the film embraces it.
You could also argue that it is a film designed by someone who hates “spring breakers” and extroverts who, to them, deserve what’s coming to them; that the story being a direct message towards rape culture.
The film is gorgeously shot though, colours are vibrant with great cinematography, you can tell that the director knows how to create atmosphere. When the girls initially rob the restaurant, everything is filmed from outside of the building looking in through the windows, very interesting film making. James Franco plays the drug dealer who befriends them after he bails them out of jail, and he looks like he’s having a lot of fun with the character, and the film’s climax was not what I expected.
It isn’t a film I will watch again. It is extreme and full of deliberately unlikable characters, as well as glamorising lifestyles far, far removed from my own even though it does everything to trash them.