Commentary
5:00 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Movie Review: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers will owe its box office success to its continual shots of bosoms and bottoms, not always covered by bikinis.

I'm not sure I ever saw the personal parts of Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, but it looked as if writer-director Harmony Korine exhausted the studio warehouse of flashes of teenage bodies bouncing around, in film stock ranging from standard to super-grainy amateur, imitating what we used to call cinema verite and are now expected to accept as reality.

Credit rottentomatoes.com

The whole thing looks like amateur exploitation until, suddenly, James Franco, of all people, shows up and things start to get sporadically grim and grimmer.

Franco is surprisingly convincing as a gang leader with gold-plated front teeth and a big, wide, phony-looking smile that served him poorly in Oz the Great and Powerful, but suits him perfectly here. Both he and the movie as a whole are conspicuously delicate about the prostitution that seems almost inevitable, but the gang world is appropriately sleazy and ugly. And if Gomez, Hudgens and company aren't repelled by it, they were not exactly innocent doves to start with, having financed their spring adventure with armed robbery.

These characters are so shallow that not much acting is called for, even by Franco. About the only "reality" we experience is in the deliberate crudeness of the camera and editing techniques, and even this is undercut by obvious use of flashy-then-subdued color, not to mention contrast cuts between practically satanic orgy shots and stone-cold police stations or dark, wet streets inhabited only by people in serious trouble.

There is a surprise in the very last spoken lines, but otherwise Spring Breakers is pretty predictable from the moment Franco makes clear that this is not a comedy.