Spring Breakers: There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

by Ethan Alter March 15, 2013 6:02 am
<i>Spring Breakers</i>: There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

I've been trying to come up with a pithy way of describing the experience of watching Harmony Korine's much-hyped beachsploitation picture Spring Breakers and here's what I've come up with: If Terrence Malick and Sofia Coppola had a baby and that baby grew up to be Britney Spears who began every performance of "...Baby One More Time" by taking a gigantic hit of cocaine, that's Spring Breakers. Much of the pre-release hype has centered on the casting of former tween superstars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as spring break-bound girls gone wild and that bit of stunt casting is obviously a publicity-friendly coup for a filmmaker who has mostly worked on the fringes of the industry. But the bigger coup that Korine pulls off is using those actresses and their rowdy "spring break forever" mantra as window dressing for a highly stylized art film that brutally (and, at times, brilliantly) sends up a society and (pop) culture that enables and enhances all the things it claims to bemoan, from the oversexualization of young women to glamorizing thug life. Spring Breakers doesn't pretend that it has any solutions to offer or that it's not, to a certain extent, part of the problem; like Natural Born Killers (another obvious stylistic inspiration), it's attempting to be both a critique and the thing its critiquing.

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