Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Sex, Drugs, Neon Colours

Female Disney stars often end up being the centre of a media circus due to some controversial act, photo, or video that shows them as more than a slave of the House of Mouse. Most notably is probably Miley Cyrus. But let's not forget Vanessa Hudgens nude photo scandals, or Selena Gomez' relationship with Justin Bieber. But the best way to shut the critics up? Embrace your life as a performer just as Miley Cyrus did with her music, or Hudgens and Gomez did with today's film. This is Spring Breakers.

Four college girls have a simple dream: to go on Spring Break. Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine) want to party in Florida with all of the other students but even with gambling and savings, they just cannot find the money to go. That is until three of the girls come up with a plan to make some extra dough by robbing a local restaurant. But when there is a will, there is a way, and the girls head of to the sunshine state to party hard, have sex, take drugs, and party harder. They want to discover themselves and have a spiritual revolution, if the trouble they get into along the way does not stop them, or if a strangely helpful rapper/drug dealer named Alien (James Franco) does not get them in more.

If she gets a paper cut, that would blow.

Spring Breakers is a neon coloured acid trip into the wasted youth of America. The four girls are little more than empty shells of characters spurred into a dark world filled with bright colours and drugs. Franco's Alien is a grotesque figure that somehow manages to charm his way into being likeable despite silver grills on all his teeth and guns on all his walls. Gomez's Faith is probably the most three-dimensional of the college girls, struggling with her own faith and how all this partying will affect her spiritually. She also acts as some form of repetitive narrator whispering down the phone about finding herself whilst the same bright, almost hallucinogenic shots of the girls partying flash over the screen for the first 40 minutes of the film.

After the partying the girls needed arrest. 

Aesthetically and artistically, the film is gorgeous. Like a drug induced journey into the mind of any American college student, Spring Breakers combines light with dark in both explicit and subtle ways. The highs of drugs and drink combined with the violence and harassment that comes with the lows of the party lifestyle. Pink balaclava clad women in bikinis with guns on a electric yellow pontoon are but one of the powerful eye catching colour combinations that director Harmony Korine works with in the film. It is just a pity he did not spend as much time building a better narrative for his films. While it is all very pretty to watch, the end result is unsatisfying. How many times in 90 minutes can James Franco drone 'Spring Break Forever' underneath clips of naked women that are seemingly taken from a Girls Gone Wild video from the 90's. Some may argue that there is a deeper meaning to all of this; that the emptiness is representative of the empty, superficial nature of today's youth. But this is no Tree of Life or 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a visually stunning piece of cinema that lacks soul.

The phrase 'diamond studded turd' springs to mind when regarding Spring Breakers, but that is possibly too harsh. The film is entertaining enough to not feel like a waste of time, but really, with all the repeated shots and mindless nudity, it feels like the whole thing could be shortened to a powerful short film, rather than feature length neon art.

Best Bit? Well for some it will undoubtedly be the gratuitous nudity but there is something extremely, and darkly, enjoyable about the film's finale.