movies: Spring Breakers: James Franco gets sleezy .....
WRITER-DIRECTOR Harmony Korine has repeatedly stuck two fingers up to the cosy conventions of mainstream filmmaking.
While his deranged body of work is not always coherent or emotionally satisfying, it does at least provoke a strong response.
Spring Breakers is as close as Korine has ever come to traditional storytelling, populating his cast with teen idols Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, who smash their wholesome images to smithereens by snorting drugs and pointing guns at innocent bystanders.
If there is a subtext, it’s lost amid the miasma of bouncing breasts, debauchery and repetitive dialogue.
Lingering shots of the female cast performing handstands and revealing their underwear adds to the thick veneer of voyeuristic sleaze in Korine’s off-kilter tale of crime and punishment.
Good girl Faith (Gomez) attends religious instruction and turns her prayers to Heaven like the rest of her flock. She returns to her reckless childhood friends Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine), who are looking forward to the spring break, except they don’t have the money to pay
Spring Breakers for their dream getaway. So the girls hold up their local fast food chicken joint and use the ill-gotten gains to finance their trip to Florida.
The dream turns sour when they are arrested at a rowdy house party and sleazy drug dealer Alien (James Franco) bails them out.
While Brit, Candy and Cotty are content to become Alien’s gun-toting fan club, Faith is scared of their self-anointed saviour and heads back home to say 10 Hail Marys.
Meanwhile, Alien welcomes the girls into his gaudy world of excess, serenading them around his piano with a rendition of the Britney Spears ballad Everytime that provides the film with just one moment of hallucinogenic madness.
Spring Breakers begins as a desecration of the rose-tinted portraits of adolescence peddled by most Hollywood teen comedies, but quickly descends into a pointless repetition of images and vapid dialogue.
When Faith surveys the hedonistic abandon of Florida and gushes ‘‘I’m starting to think this is the most spiritual place I’ve ever been’’, we realise she is almost as crazy as Korine.
The hold-up of the chicken shop is the film’s stand-out sequence, shot from the vantage point of the getaway driver.
In contrast, the climactic shootout, conducted in skimpy bikinis and pink ski masks, is a swig of insanity too far.
– DAMON SMITH
Spring Breakers opens today.
James Franco as sleazy drug dealer Alien in