Spring Breakers
"Korine packages his ideologically poisoned gift basket as art by reveling in shameless self-manipulation."

The fawning over Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers in the US as if it were the latest, hippest cinematic masterpiece takes a dumbing down of film criticism, combined with overlooking the regression of a filmmaker. Korine packages his ideologically poisoned gift basket as art by revelling in shameless self-manipulation.

Spring breakers repetitively pretending to be wild, rebellious, and in control are sold as something new and empowering, when they are actually stale young actors in the 21st century Disney tradition acting out in inane ways, playing on a collective self-hatred shared by the characters and a passive audience.

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James Franco's small-town celebrity arms and drug dealer, who also is a rapper and calls himself Alien, is, as usual with Franco, a cynical, costumed, word-slurring parody. His performance of Alien is the residue of the Allen Ginsberg he played in Howl, sent to Florida and dressed down with metal teeth, mid-calf shorts and wife beaters. Apropos - any woman, behaving the way the four spring breaking girls do around aggressive drunken strangers with guns, would find herself beaten up and most likely raped.

Which brings me to the core problem with Korine's Spring Breakers. The movie is a spiteful, deeply cynical, and impotent male fantasy. That the hatred towards women is disguised as female empowerment - yeah, girls in bikinis waving around guns, yeah - is nothing new. It is merely another turn of the screw that you can buy at any Disney store. By marketing as subversive what confirms existing power and serves its interest, you can have it all.

In the same tradition, the girls (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Harmony's wife) don't get any actual individual human traits, unless you consider Church Barbie and Car-driving Barbie as such. We tell them apart by the shade of their colour-coordinated neon bikini, and maybe their hair shade, like My Little Pony or a Teletubby. Try to match their names, Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith to their footwear and have fun!

The interactions between the women are limited to the most basic stage directions and devoid of any logic. One of them has enough of the wild spring breaking after a night in jail and tells the other three she wants to go home. The other three stroke her hair and say comforting words like, "there, there." Did Korine forget the context? Probably. He also doesn't care and why should you? You are not supposed to. The lines are throw-away, as well as the actresses. Look at the ludicrous camera angle instead.

Before the press screening, I overheard two guys behind me talking about the former child-actresses' ages and if their lusting after them was legal, gurgling with guilty pleasure about what they heard beforehand and excited at the prospect. Disney renamed their movie version of Rapunzel to Tangled in order to attract the little boys to the movie theater, who would be ashamed to see a "princess movie." Spring Breakers sells out by giving teenage boys of all ages a license to leer without a thought in their heads of the consequences.

Zero stars forty - Harmony Korine's latest, released in the year of his 40th birthday, is a case of arrested development.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2013
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Spring Breakers packshot
Four college students form an unlikely allegiance with a drug dealer.
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Read more Spring Breakers reviews:

David Graham ****1/2
Neil Mitchell ***

Director: Harmony Korine

Writer: Harmony Korine

Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Heather Morris, James Franco, Rachel Korine

Year: 2012

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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