Watching this movie feels like something you shouldn’t do. Maybe you shouldn’t even like it. When it was first released in 2012, many people didn’t at all.
But I did, and I still do.
This movie is “Spring Breakers.”
Watching this movie makes you feel like you’re entering an entirely new world even though nothing magical or fantastical takes place.
It makes you feel alive even though the characters are so dead inside. Watching this movie is an experience all its own, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen.
Directed by Harmony Korine, this film takes audiences on a surreal journey from the melancholy dorm rooms of Kentucky to the neon beaches and clubs of spring break in Florida.
That's the point of a movie — to take you to new places, make you learn new things and make you think of new possibilities.
The story is simple yet fascinating. Every time I watch it, crude dialogue and vulgar shots of alcohol and drug use still shock me, but I love that the movie allows its characters to live out experiences I would never dream of trying.
Played by Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson, Candy, Cotty, Faith and Brit are too caught up in the dull nature of their own lives to realize what they have or what they have to lose.
They’re fed up with being bored, which leads them to believe that absolutely anything would be better than the reality they’re living. They’re lost in life and eventually lose sight of their humanity.
Three of the four girls, at least, think their hedonistic lives as spring breakers and partying every single minute of every single day are the best they’re ever going to get. So after robbing a local restaurant for fast cash early in the movie, they head out to Florida.
The alcohol-filled, drug-infested poolsides and motel rooms are what they understand as living the good life. They enjoy having no class to worry about, no rules to obey and no one to tell them they’re wrong. Even after getting arrested and being bailed out, they carry on with their reckless behavior alongside Alien, a rapper and drug dealer who's just as messed up as the girls are and is played by James Franco.
The script captures tidbits of cultural dialogue, sometimes humorously, given how outlandish the whole production feels. The characters seem one-dimensional taken alone, but viewers can tell they have backstories waiting to be told.
Korine takes scenes of decadence and partying and pairs them with profound, aesthetically beautiful scenes of melancholy realizations of how twisted the girls lives really are.
He’s not lacking in genius when it comes to visuals. His use of light alone should have been nominated for an Academy Award. Almost every moment of the film that’s either inside a room or at night utilizes a gorgeous neon color pallet, ranging from the brightest magentas to subdued sky blues.
Through one of the most breathtaking movie soundtracks I’ve ever heard, Skrillex and Cliff Martinez piece together melodies and EDM synths that sometimes make you want to dance and sometimes make your ears ring in wonderment. Could a mechanical sound ever be so sad?
With the addition of voiceovers, the entire film feels like an iridescent, glow-in-the-dark dream from which you sometimes want to look away, but never want to wake up from.
The editing style is intriguing and smart, with repetition of scenes to emphasize how the girls' lives are the same each and every day, that what they see now is all they’ve ever known.
Korine foreshadows major events and often places the “effect” of a series of actions before the audience experiences the “cause” chronologically. He makes viewers ponder the timeline of the events, possibly to mirror the girls’ drug-induced haze.
The cinematography is simple and visually pleasing, with images of blurred backgrounds, smooth long shots and intimate close-ups of characters' faces.
The last scene of the film shows a bitter image of two of the four girls walking away from the camera as it pans around and upside down. The scene suggests an alternate universe these characters thought they were living in, but now have to leave.
A truly fascinating and beautiful account of crazed actions, "Spring Breakers" sometimes shocks, sometimes fools around, and sometimes saddens, but ultimately triumphs as a cult classic for years to come.