Controversial director Harmony Korine returns to the big screen with his latest gritty and raw experimental film Spring Breakers. The advertisements sell the film’s lush colors and attractive young stars, yet the movie functions as a dissection of today’s youth by way of hyper visuals, hypnotic music and an uncomfortably honest coming-of-age story that follows a group of lost and confused college students as they descend into the madness of Spring Break season.
Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are college students sick of living their boring day-to-day lives. They want something exciting — something that they don’t even fully understand. They decide to rob a bank, which kick starts their Spring Break vacation to the sunny beaches of Florida and from there they run into a bunch of bizarre and shady characters.
The shadiest of them all is Alien (James Franco) — a lanky white boy with a mouth full of bling and a weird obsession with showing off virtually everything that he owns. Alien is a man of power and a man that strongly believes in the Scarface American dream of simply taking everything you want in excess.
The girls naturally take a liking to Alien, especially after he helps them get out of a situation with the police. From that point on the group begins their descent into the world of drugs, alcohol and other illegal activities.
Director Harmony Korine is the driving factor behind a film like Spring Breakers having such a strong, yet mixed reaction from audience members across the country. Korine is a love him or hate him filmmaker that often pushes the viewers’ buttons with his obsession over sleazy redneck character types that almost always do the most detestable things. This also happens to be Korine’s strongest ability as a visual artist looking to push back when others simply conform.
Korine is a storyteller looking to make you question each and every scene. His films are dream-like representations of any given topic and often they slip into full-on nightmares. Spring Breakers is a film full of complete madness and an uncontrollable amount of raw and uncomfortable situations. This film is not the vacation away from home that some of the advertisements have promised it to be.
It’s instead a first-hand look at a group of confused youths that are looking to make a few mistakes and hopefully learn from them. Do they by the end of the film? Kind of. Korine isn’t interested in a telling a black and white coming-of-age story about a group of girls growing into women over their Spring Break. He’s much more worried about dissecting some of societies’ unfair stereotypes placed on today’s youth, while also drawing attention to the general landscape of Spring Break and just how messed up it really is.
Hidden beneath all of the sun-soaked imagery and barely-dressed women is an experimental film that employs various visual and audio tricks — like free-flowing camera movement and re-using of chunks of dialogue, to keep the viewer in a constant trance. You don’t simply watch Spring Breakers, you live it and feel it.
Some might not like what they feel and that’s totally acceptable. But for those of you that do you’ll find yourself picking apart the film for days. Korine has crafted something that I wouldn’t necessarily call a work of genius, but a work of an artist striving for something special, fully knowing that most won’t accept what he comes up with.
To write off Spring Breakers as another trashy Harmony Korine film is to completely miss the point entirely. That feeling of filth and disgust is exactly what Korine wants you to feel while viewing the film and if watching the film makes you want to stand up and argue one’s jaded look on today’s youth or even one’s obsession with such chaos, it simply means that Spring Breakers is doing its job.
Lionsgate brings the film to Blu-Ray with a neon-filled 1080p video transfer that beautifully captures the film’s unique look and feel. Daytime scenes appear with sharp detail that highlights the sweat and sand, while nighttime scenes have a distinct washed-over look that focuses more on the vibrant and bright pinks, purples and greens that Korine and his cinematographer fill the film with.
The film definitely experiments on more than one occasion, which simply means that some scenes are going to look much cleaner and consistent than others that stray off the beaten path and feature lots of exaggerated colors.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track blasts Cliff Martinez’s score out the back channels, while maintaining a strong focus on dialogue on the front channels. The dubstep-fused score is really the biggest highlight of the track, because each and every song is richly detailed on the channels and full of thumping base. Everything else slips into dream-mode as the film’s unique visuals blend almost effortlessly with the audio.
Here’s a list of bonus content found on the disc:
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Harmony Korine
- Breaking it Down: Behind Spring Breakers (HD) – A three part behind-the-scenes look at the making of Spring Breakers. All three sections focus mostly on Korine, his crew and his cast as they discuss the film and its unique goals that it tries to achieve. It’s always great getting a look into Korine’s brain, while at the same time nothing here is really all that new. Check this out if you’re looking for a better explanation of what type of film Korine was trying to make and why. It’s short enough to watch in one sitting.
- Deleted Scene/Outtakes (HD) – One brief deleted scene, followed by a short and mostly unfunny clip of outtakes.
- Harmony’s Ear Candy (HD) – A look at the film’s score, composed by Cliff Martinez.
- VICE Featurettes (HD) – Another three part featurette that looks at the ATL Twins and the film’s various partying locations.
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Spring Breakers is a tough film to recommend, because most will probably be disappointed or slightly confused by Harmony Korine’s structuring. He’s not one for presenting a straight-forward story and because of that I found myself completely engulfed in the odd world that Korine has constructed and filled with so many out-of-the-box characters.
Spring Breakers is experimental by nature and something that is worth hour-long discussions. It’s also gorgeous to look at on Blu-Ray and Lionsgate pads the disc with enough bonus content to help the viewers better understand Korine’s intentions. There’s also a digital copy for taking the film with you on the go and showing it off at some of your own wild parties.
Spring Breakers is definitely something that’s best rented first, if only to make sure that the film is right for you. Fans will want to purchase this one without a doubt though, as Lionsgate has provided a quality Blu-Ray release for one of the year’s most interesting movies.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.