Saturday, 6 April 2013

REVIEW - SPRING BREAKERS


Harmony Korine takes his shock-jocking to the mainstream with Spring Breakers, a film designed to be nothing more than just a design - gaudy reflections of a youth culture whose intent to horrify and bewilder its elders is buried so deep below its latent conservatism that the deeper you probe, the emptier it gets. But it's all about having fun, right? Indulging the desires of a generation of sexist homophobes with a love of firearms and a fear of genitalia. I can buy into it to an extent. I can buy into the underage drinking, the rampant drug abuse, the rough, raucous dance music - the only thing more fun than watching must be joining in. But Korine is so steeped himself in this culture that he perpetuates its defects. He spreads the satire on when it comes to violence, but his attitude towards sexuality is jarringly cautious. Indeed, it's a reflection, and not an advancement, not a new spin on an existing subject. But who's to shock with this, with what we already know? It takes a lot more than kids doing coke off a half-naked student's abdomen to cause the kind of provocation that Korine wants to. He attacks and celebrates this all from the inside, restricting him in his search for a tone. Shooting its load way too early, Spring Breakers can't find any adequate sustenance for its runtime, and ends up seizing hold of passing plot strands, descending ever further into banality. Casting Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez may be an attempt at subversion, but it works, because the four leads all do. Casting James Franco was just stupid, though. There's an 'artiste' beneath the gold teeth and braids, a performer playing dress-up, relishing an opportunity to do something unexpected. Franco's naive arrogance draws you out of the film every time he's in shot. A memorable scene involves him fellating the barrel of a gun, an action at which he proves curiously skillful... Sound and visuals somewhat rescue the film, being of greater and more focused ambition than Korine and his cast - the soundscape is alternately seductive and brutal, and Benoit Debie's photography is expectedly brilliant, with its sickly pastels and sickening neons.