Harmony Korine’s rampant return to feature films is a loud and garish look at the Britney-loving youths of Beach Party MTV.
While seemingly bright, thrilling and drenched in EDM tack, with Korine pulling the strings it’s clear that something more sinister is at work.
Teen stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson join Korine’s wife Rachel to play four tempestuous college students who, following a slick one-shot diner hold up, set off on a spring break trip of partying and debauchery. A police bust leaves the girls in prison where they turn to Alien, a Riff Raff-channelling Pied Piper played by James Franco, to bail them out.
A whirlwind of escalating madness and depravity ensues, causing shifts in the group’s eerie dynamic as Alien succumbs to his newfound sirens.
The casting really is a phenomenon. Franco provides a welcome break from his baffling descent into half-baked art projects with a great turn as Alien, but the squeaky clean girls backing him up are the film’s defining coup.
Art wickedly imitates life as Korine dangles the golden carrot of artistic integrity in front of his young starlets. Korine was 17 years old when he wrote Larry Clark’s Kids and with Spring Breakers, it’s clear he has lost none of his edge: the bold, uncompromising director’s work feels as fresh today as it did almost two decades ago.
Spring Breakers | Directed by Harmony Korine (USA 2012) with James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens. Starts March 21