Spring Breakers is gauche and uncomfortable and kind of brilliant

Steve Dinneen
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Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers begins with a 20 minute sequence showing the kind of demented revelry that spring breakers only get up to in the minds of over-excited teenage boys.

Guys clutch cans of beer between their thighs and tip them into the open mouths of bare breasted women. Bare breasted women drink through funnels until they lapse into the sweet respite of unconsciousness. Bare breasted women make out with each other. I really can’t stress how many bare breasts there are.

Four female university friends decide they want in on the action. They don’t have any cash so they rob a convenience store. What would possess four intelligent women to do this? God knows. There's little in the way of character exploration. They just do. Then they make out with each other and head off to the beach for spring break, where they end up being adopted by a gun-totin’ gangster with silver teeth called Alien (James Franco).

It's... problematic. But through the fug of misogyny seeps Harmony Korine's singular vision: a lunatic, psychedelic acid trip; a kaleidoscope of neon bikinis, dirty blond hair and fresh red blood.

The message seems to be: America is broken, although it isn’t clear if this is a good thing or not. The characters certainly seem to be enjoying themselves – possibly because they are broken too. “Pretend like it’s a video game” is repeated like a mantra, pick up that machine gun, shoot that guy. There are no consequences.

For former Disney starlets Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson, this is a real-life coming of age movie. For James Franco, it's the performance of a lifetime.