Movie Review | Spring Breakers
Movie summary: Four college girls hold up a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation. While partying, drinking, and taking drugs, they are arrested, only to be bailed out by a drug and arms dealer. (IMDb)
When my random movie picker selected Spring Breakers as a movie to review, I was half-tempted to simply review it from memory, thinking that it stood out well enough that I wouldn't need to watch it again: a loud, chaotic film, filled to the brim with drugs, nudity, violence, foul language and all the other worst excesses you can imagine from college students with no limits for their inhibitions.
To be fair, all of those things are still true about the movie, but those things hit a different way this second time through. When I first saw this film in the cinema, it was actually more funny than anything with just how outrageous it was - it certainly helped hearing gasps and laughter of disbelief from other audience members who also probably couldn't believe what the characters were getting away with.
I don't know whether it's just me being in a different place in my life with a different mentality (believe it or not, people can change a lot in 8 years, with Spring Breakers having been released in 2012), or if knowing the depths to which the characters would sink meant that the outrageous elements didn't distract from the incredible character work this time.
If anything, by the time the credits started I felt immensely sad for all four of the girls - Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez). I even allowed myself a couple of days between watching the movie for a second time and writing this review to see if my feeling would change, but it didn't.
All four of them end up 'broken' to some degree by the events of Spring Breakers, and it's tricky to say which of them comes off worse. Faith and Cotty leave the movie early, with one emotionally breaking down and the other shockingly and unexpectedly injured, puncturing their dreams of the free-spirited lifestyle they imagined spring break would be to them.
Candy and Brit end up sinking even further though, despite the fact that their outward reactions aren't as emotional. They last the course and 'win' as far as anyone could be said to come out on top in this story, but what they go through has had such a huge effect on them that they wind up borderline emotionless husks, possibly no longer capable of the feelings Faith and Cotty exhibited.
And credit has to go to all four of the actresses for their work here, especially Selena Gomez for me - her performance here makes me wonder why she hasn't had any high-profile acting work since. Faith was the most likable of the girls to me and, despite arguably suffering the least, Gomez made her so easy to feel empathy for that it was hard to watch her in pain.
Spring BreakersRachel Korine's Cotty was the opposite for the majority of , being arguably the wildest and most out of control of the quartet from the start, including being the only one of the four main actresses to openly bare her breasts in a movie filled with topless women. But why the character leaves the movie is pretty shocking and Korine's performance is completely believable, leaving you feeling sorry for someone who felt pretty unsympathetic for so much of her time on-screen.
Hudgens and Benson were the hardest to relate to for me, but I consider that intentional and the result of their characters' 'hardening' from what they go through. It's always going to be difficult to feel anything for characters who seem to be losing their own capability for feeling anything over the course of the movie - and especially after the other girls' departures.
Then there's James Franco's Alien (actually his name - self-titled, obviously - and not an actual alien), who I also had a wildly different view of after this second viewing. When I first watched Spring Breakers, he felt like a character born to become a meme ("Look at all my shit!", "Spring Break forever...") and just a little too arrogant, getting in over his head.
This time, he comes across as a very scared guy who deals with his own fear by attempting to intimidate others such as the four main characters, whether by using his physical presence or trying to overwhelmingly impress them with the false image he's built for himself. To be fair, Candy and Brit seem to get this pretty quickly and are neither impressed nor intimidated by him - although this could again be due to their own growing carelessness for their personal wellbeing.
Would I recommend watching Spring Breakers? Not for everyone, no. This certainly isn't going to be enjoyed by a lot of people, with my memory of it being a mean-spirited, loud, chaotic mess of a movie proving to be accurate, not even counting the fact that it is a movie about the gradual corruption and destruction of four young women's lives.
What I would say is that if you're looking for something very different to what Hollywood normally produces, this is a pretty good alternative. If you haven't seen this movie before and want a story that will shock and surprise you with just how dark it will get, you might like this too. If you watched it before and were maybe put off, give it another go now you know what events occur and enjoy the incredible character work going on.
Spring Breakers is not a nice movie, but it's still a really good one. For first time viewers, it'll most likely prove shocking and outrageous, but the real quality lies in the excellent performances of the four central women and James Franco's Alien. It might take two watches to fully appreciate it, but I would say it's worth it - this is a movie that will stick with me for a long, long time.