spring breakers (2012)

Imagine, decades of escalating party-like-there's-no-tomorrow youth culture has finally been properly cataloged, assessed and studied enough to lead to this: a filmmaker finally nailed it. Harmony Korine snatches the pantheon of pop sex, drugs and video game garbage, sifts it out, smashes it back into a blender and, yes, probably vomits it onto a celluloid frame, taking full advantage of his exaggerated (or spot-on, depending on who you're talking to) characterizations of US college students as human beings whose minds run in a constant loop of media-fueled, imagined scenarios to which they aspire, and the other-worldy, mythological aura of "spring break". The silver lining? It's a hyperbolic exercise for sure. The scary part? It's not that far off. Korine paints a world where getting fucked up, fucking, and fucking up are the ultimate religious experience of the present century; a spiritual journey to find out 'who you really are', displayed in a constant playlist of voice-over on beauty shots and choppy music videos set to dub-step. Although, laid into the consistent lingering indulgences on tits, ass and cocaine close-ups is a distinct through-line, a momentum we know is driving in the direction of empowerment for the four central characters. However, Korine takes it a step further by presenting us with confused teens let out of their pop-insulated bubbles into an area of consequences and decisions; and while the youths' grab at physical displays of their sense of adult-empowerment, we in the audience can glean that the sense stems from acting upon their fantasy, simply because the imagined self who populates them embodies their definition of 'power'. Phallic representations abound, not as a symbol of masculinity, but of dominion, to be swapped between male and female characters in a continuous volley of gender roles. Add the bat-shit performance of Franco, the moody black-light and neon visuals, and the bombastic cutting (that virtually eliminates establishing anything at all and instead dives head-first into each scene before the other is even completed) and you've got a concise work that relentlessly drives until the credits. Korine establishes a syntax this is entirely unique, and the film itself is as impressive as it is hilarious. Hopefully he's not holding the mirror too close for comfort and audiences actually embrace it, we'll see.