Spring Breakers is edited to put audiences in a catatonic state, mind-bendingly repetitive and creepily voyeuristic. Shedding their Disney origins (and clothes), Selena Gomez joins Vanessa Hudgens in this romanticized depiction of gun laden debauchery, societal norms and innocence ripped from four young women.
Often delirious in its depiction of feminine bonding, director Harmony Korine casts an eerie camera on impossible levels of nudity, selling Spring Breakers on gleeful college hallway runs sans clothes. Girls here have more in common with porno actresses locked in a sorority room where things turn playful than legitimate interpretations. The camera acts a peering eye, possibly attempting a loose fitting metaphor for sexualized society run amok, and instead runs headlong into exploitation.
Oppression sets in, two of the girls – Candy (Hudgens) and Brit (Ashley Benson) – choking down cocaine while Faith (Gomez) attends a religious camp. Somewhere in the mix is Cotty (Rachel Korine), blending together with weakly defined character traits, as a whole becoming little more than a group seeking thrills.
Sapped of cash, the foursome unleashes an unnervingly uncouth outburst on a chicken diner, robbing occupants to fund their delusional necessity of a Floridian spring break. Spring Breakers unleashes a torrent of visual stimuli, running rip shod through any coherent narrative structure. Strung out at clubs or thinly patrolled beaches, scripting inserts lost calls home, and monologues regarding the ability to find ones self in the midst of bong or keg parties. Little is of consequence, designed to be freeing and instead turning crushingly dull.
Enter a near savior, Alien (James Franco), a tattooed malcontent with steely teeth and illogical hip hop career. Bailing the girls out from prison, Alien becomes an oddball mentor, dealing in guns, crack, and sexual deviancy. Alien’s own gun running hits a rival’s territory, igniting a potential turf war as two of the girls are sucked into the lifestyle.
Spring Breakers is as scattered as the girl’s minds, frenzied and ill-equipped for substantive grounding. Faith’s reluctance toward advances within Alien’s wide reaching demeanor removes her from the script, uselessly using her for sex appeal before deeming her out of place. Spring Breakers assumes it is shrewd, and often becomes a waste of screen time. Shifting perspectives are a blotch to pacing, sequences repetitiously trotted out as if revisiting bolsters storytelling methods. They don’t.
The film is an anomaly, a societal breakdown which neither finds its core nor purpose. Schizophrenic filmmaking supersedes transparent commentary, lurching to a slow motion finale inter cut with perceived innocence as a body counts reach idiotic levels. What’s left is unsubstantiated material with low grade gloss, and an atrocious decision by otherwise capable young actresses. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]
At times so thickly filtered as to represent mush, Spring Breakers is only as visually alluring as its content permits. Snippets of degraded VHS camcorder footage, zero grade cell phone clips, and trippy color mash-ups intersect a cleanly captured film stock.
If anything acts as a central visual to take notice of, it is a crisp, hyper reality rendered by a noisy film grain. Saturation blossoms into brisk oranges and neons, smearing the screen with glamorous hues. Reds bleed out, nullifying sharpness, and black lit interiors can only produce a haze.
Focus carries no consistency to speak of, explicitly wild and unkempt as camerawork weens between shots. Sometimes gorgeous sunsets are given the full might of a chosen film stock, other times all is wasted on blurry snippets which almost certainly left loads of footage behind in the cutting room. Lionsgate’s encode is imperceptible as frayed visual palettes hide any gaffes in compression. Spotting a fault of this AVC encode quickly turns to intent; it is not possible to separate encoding mistakes from purposeful decisions.
Highs replicate ingrained fine detail, facial close-ups stirring when allowed to be. Medium shots of Franco in his paradise are refined, shoreline palm trees luscious as they dive into the horizon. Perky contrast is embedded deep, and when left to their own devices, black levels soar with unmistakable thickness. Spring Breakers is not visually pleasing so much as it is a test for visual breakdowns and hallucinogenic styles. The Blu-ray does what it can. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Dubstep runs over Spring Breakers “candid” introduction, blaring obnoxiously while it powers into the subwoofer for unmissable low-end force. Music is typical to this DTS-HD’s bombastic selection, heavily lifted into party ambiance or disconnected concerts. LFE will sit until called upon otherwise, namely a few bullet rounds in slow motion during a climactic shoot-out.
For party-heavy scenarios, design is meekly mixed, utilizing wide spreads of the stereos while forgetting surround channels. Little is done to broaden ambient scope, restrictive possibly by budgetary constraints. While certainly a difficult proposition with regards to accuracy, Spring Breakers never approaches thoughts of capturing wild, unrestricted parties. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
Trailers. That’s it. Spring Breakers calls for a commentary, certainly to provide insight into its purpose, or to clarify. Sans any bonuses, that doesn’t happen. [xrr rating=0/5 label=Extras]