Every year there's a film that, for whatever reason (usually the stars), gets mainstream attention even though it's essentially a festival film. So when Harmony Korine's latest caught a wave of notoriety in American theaters after playing Venice, it could almost be taken as a prank: a film that looks like a crime romp where maybe, just maybe, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens will make out, but really is an elliptical, self-reflexive nightmare of warped American values. But as the film entered its second half, two thoughts came to mind. First, the iconography of the all-American spring break doesn't need to be appropriated and exaggerated by provocateurs—actual footage on MTV is far scarier than Korine's film. And second, the intersection of our economic system, popular culture, and moral decrepitude has been examined better by artists subtle enough to not use guns as penises or name the religious character "Faith". But if better writing could help ward off the aire of obviousness, the film's point is made effectively by style: the bright pastels and trance-like editing are intoxicating (history written in neon), and the emphasis on appearances over psychology is a message in and of itself. What I walked away with most is that the Scarface theme is now played out. A more unsettling story, possibly hinted at by Korine, isn't that hard-partying college students who want to continue their materialist dream end up as violent criminals; it's that they end up in white-collar jobs. Now that would be creepy.
3 out of 5 stars.
Spring Breakers is now out on DVD. It's really not that shocking.