Teen sensations Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) take a turn for the mature in the new film from writer and director Harmony Korine (Gummo). Four bored college girls want nothing more than to get away from their lives and head south for spring break, the one problem being that they have almost no money.
That is quickly fixed when they rob a local chicken restaurant with a plastic gun and in no time are down south with a fist full of cash, surrounded by semi-naked, booze-soaked revellers enjoying the sun and their freedom. Things–of course–go bad and the girls are arrested at a party and with no money to bail themselves out get help from a local small time gangster named Alien played by James Franco. From here things, even more obviously, get no better as two of the girls end up leaving and the other two stay with Alien and become part of his crew and plot together to take down his local rival.
Harmony Korine is best known as the writer of Kids (1995) and has always realistically depitcted and written about a younger generation in a way that is both upsetting and true. For the first time we get to see Korine stretch as a visual story teller. Spring Breakers is a combination of music video, girls gone wild video and a Harmony Korine film. The party scenes are bright and colourful and seem like a heightened reality of sorts, this allows for the stark contrast of the low points that feel extra dark and gritty as the party ends for the girls.
At this point of his career nothing James Franco does will really surprise anyone who has followed him but in this film he comes close. Franco is almost unrecognizable as Alien and after the film ended walking out you could overhear people exclaiming they didn’t even recognize him until the credits rolled. To paint a picture for you at one moment a tattooed Franco with his hair in cornrows, gold grill firmly affixed to his teeth is seated at a baby grand piano overlooking the ocean singing and playing a Brittany Spears song as the girls dance with shotguns with absolutely no irony whatsoever.
The real surprise for me came from Selena Gomez who I only knew as the Bieber-dating teen sensation. She is also a terrific actress. As the reluctant spring breaker and the emotional and moral centre of the film she delivers a mature, multi-layered performance that will certainly win her fans outside of the teen set.
Written and directed by: Harmony Korine
Starring: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine
Friday September 14th
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 9:00pm
Written by Jason Poynton
Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.