Spring Breakers (2013): Harmony (Gimmo, Mister Lonely) Korine Finally Makes Decent Film, with Splashy Performance from James Franco

Writer-director Harmony Korine, still best known for his bold 1995 scenario of “Kids,” shows some progress as a filmmaker with “Spring Breakers,” a film that’s more impressive stylistically than thematically.

Having reviewed for Variety Korine’s two previous films, the awful “Gimmo” and the barely watchable “Mister Lonely,” it’s a relief to write a more balanced review of “Spring Breakers.”

Gummo: Harmony Korine’s Directing Debut

Mister Lonely

Targeting the subgenres of Girls Just Wanna Have Some Fun and Girls Gone Wild, Korine has made a movie of striking surfaces and sounds. Watching this dense, often feverish feature, it’s not clear to what extent Korine presents a critique of an empty, boring milieu or simply depicts it as such to a point where his movie itself becomes empty and boring.

Fans of the film’s female stars, especially Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, may be surprised by the way that Korine plays with and against their more established public screen images.

The tale centers on a quartet of appealing girls, Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez), who have been best friends since grade school. Living together in a boring college dormitory, the restless femmes simply yearn for excitement, showing their hunger for true adventure in every move and statement they make.

Like many other girls, especially in this time of the year, they convince themselves that all they have to do is save enough money for spring break to get their shot at having some real fun.

In the process, they have a serendipitous encounter with rapper “Alien” (James Franco), who promises to provide them with all the thrill and excitement they could hope for. With the encouragement of their new friend, it soon becomes unclear how far the girls are willing to go to experience a spring break they will never forget.

At the risk of sounding cynical, I suggest that harsh viewers of Korine’s new movie, rent one of the most popular “Spring Break” movies ever made, the 1961 “Where the Boys Are,” starring Connie Francis, and judge for themselves the extent to which this pop phenomenon and the way it has been

represented in mainstream Hollywood movies (which Korine’s picture is not) has changed—for better or worse.

In many ways, due to its familiar Florida setting, lurid color scheme, flowimg hair and sexy bikinis, and stars, “Spring Breakers” is Korine’s most accessible and enjoyable work, though it would be a mistake to charge it with being too conventional. Just look beneath its surfaces.


Running time: 92 Minutes.
Directed and written by Harmony Korine