“Everytime I try to fly
I fall without my wings
I feel so small
I guess I need you baby
And everytime I see you in my dreams
I see your face, it’s haunting me
I guess I need you baby”
– “Everytime,” Britney Spears
Vulnerable. Sincere. Poetic. These are not the words that you would expect to be used to describe Harmony Korine’s infamous new film “Spring Breakers.” The movie features four college students, Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith (Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, and Selena Gomez), who journey down to Florida for the ultimate spring break experience and wind up with the getaway they never expected. After successfully robbing a local restaurant by telling themselves to “pretend like it’s a video game,” the girls have enough cash to party with their peers for the rest of break. Once they get arrested due to their debauchery, they are introduced to Alien (James Franco) and his local world of hustlin’ and glamour. The story really goes into a completely different universe from there.
Let’s back up though. Before I even begin to write more about this movie, I feel like I should make my opinion on it clear. I loved it. It is a cult classic that I can’t wait to drunkenly take part in annual showings of at the Castro Theater. It is one of the most important pieces of satire based on our generation that may be ever made. Spring Breakers has been marketed like any other low-budget teen movie that revolves around alcohol and sex. The draw for those who aren’t familiar with Korine’s works is the fact that it looks like a coke-fueled Urban Outfitters summer catalogue that came to life. One of the big questions my friends and I have been asking each other is, “Who was in on it? “It” being the fact that this movie criticizes the Millenial generation through our own narcissism.
Was Skrillex, who was responsible for most of the soundtrack, in on the joke? Yes. Was James Franco, who plays a character very closely based off the rapper Riff Raff, in on the joke? Most likely, yes. Were the “Disney princesses” (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson) in on the joke? We’d love to think so but it’s a gray area. Then again does the answer really matter?
The movie opens with boobs accompanied by Skrillex. I truly wish there was a more graceful way to state that. This opening scene blasts the song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and is the epitome of “Spring Breakers.” It is equal parts techno daydream followed by invasive distorted bass drops. The music makes me stare wide-eyed and then neurotically blink hard until I can get out of that moment. It’s like a balloon constantly popping. Still Skrillex and Cliff Martinez did an amazing job creating a soundtrack to perfectly push scenes over the edge while also embodying what the characters themselves would willingly listen to in that moment as well.
Britney Spears helps the audience and character reach a level of surrealism that does not seem attainable. The callbacks to the song “Hit Me Baby One More Time” simultaneously shows the girls silliness, relative innocence and brimming sexuality. The best scene in the movie is perfectly paired with Spears’ song “Everytime.” It features the girls dancing around Alien’s outdoor grand piano in neon pink ski masks with various guns replacing the dance ribbons you would expect. The song pushes everyone involved (including us) to realize how intense the cohorts relationship has become. It’s codependent, unhealthy, and potentially dangerous. It’s the perfect moment when half of the movie theater leaves and the rest of us buckles in because the ride is actually about to start.
There’s a lot of the plot that I left out and a lot more to talk about concerning cinematography, casting, and even an overarching theme of Alien being a Christ-like figure (he literally proclaims that he is not of this world). The thing is that even Harmony Korine isn’t interested in plot. In a recent interview with Marc Maron he stated that, “If you’re a person who’s going to plot your life, I don’t want to be around you. Why would I plot my movies? Stories and characters are what I like.” Don’t let this dissuade you.
“Spring Breakers” is a movie I want to watch weekly and also never see again. It’s intense on the scale of “The Notebook,” in that you can only watch it so often for the sake of your own mental health. Go catch it while it’s still in theaters with a group of friends and be prepared to laugh, gasp, and grab the arms of your neighbors during the many “what just happened” moments. At worst, you’ll have neon-themed stress dreams narrated by Britney Spears while trying to forget what you just watched. That’s not the worst, right?