Secret Smut

Spring Breakers: like Kids with Disney princesses.

by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

Galaxy Cinemas

2/5

To understand the existence of Spring Breakers, you must become acquainted with its director, Harmony Korine. Once the enfant terrible of American cinema, Korine’s greatest hits include the exploitative Kids and the unpleasant trilogy Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy and Trash Humpers (the latter shot in VHS). The filmmaker’s uncompromising approach to ugliness and hedonism has earned him a modicum of respect among industry insiders and New York artsy-fartsy circles, but his messy personal life has kept him from having a full-blown career.

Now clean and sober, Korine delivers his most cohesive film to date, a high-brow version of Girls Gone Wild. Four nubile college students dream of a spring vacation, but can’t afford it. What’s a pretty girl to do? Rob a diner! The proverbial slippery slope kicks in and soon the girls are under the wing of a seedy gangsta (James Franco) who manipulates them into joining his drug-pushing operation.

The girls’ pursuit (“Spring Break forever!”) is supposed to embody a spiritual quest for nirvana, but the message is undermined by the sexualization of the protagonists. Spring Breakers feels like soft-core porn for people who don’t want to acknowledge watching soft-core porn. This pretentiousness prevents the film from being a fun teenage romp.

There are some bright spots in this otherwise disposable flick. Selena Gómez is quite sympathetic as the good-girl-gone-bad by association, but her role — the voice of reason — is reduced to a minimum during the second half of the film. From then on, it’s the James Franco show. Unlike everyone else in Spring Breakers, Franco is aware that pretension-coated trash is still trash, and has some fun with the hand he has been dealt.

Overall, you’ll find more honesty in Girls Gone Wild. Not that I’ve ever seen that.

2013-04-04