Hieronymus Bosch is alive and well and living in Florida bitches! He’s melding slobbering hunks of flesh into micro bikinis Brian Yuzna style. Two finger smiles, porn star tongues-this could be an X-rated Coke advert. Sun kissed skin sizzles in montage, booze cascades in slow motion, Sodom meets Gomorrah by the sea. Welcome to Heaven and Hell. Welcome to Spring Break. Say hello to the “Spring Breakers.”
Missing all of the orchestrated spontaneity are college friends, Faith, Brit, Candy and Cotty. They’re the skeleton crew left to rattle about in their sleepy, grey, minimal University. $320 just wont cut it but Brit and Candy are hardcore, “Pretend like you’re in a video game. Act like you’re in a movie or something.” They decide to rob a chicken shack and press gang Cotty into being their getaway driver.
Like everything in Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” the robbery is voyeuristic, littered with pop culture references. Cotty circles the restaurant as we spy Brit and Candy through the windows smashing the gaff up with hammers and spite. It’s “Grand Theft Auto,” “Pulp Fiction” and “A History of Violence.” Christian Faith waits in their dorm none the wiser, Dorothy dreaming of Oz. The girls hit pay dirt-Spring Break is on muthafuckers!
We’re served up a smorgasbord of kinky hi-jinks; lipstick lesbians snort coke nyotaimori style, billion dollar bongs and siphoned hooch litter every shot like extraterrestrial breathing apparatus. The girls love it, the boys love it, and despite the gleaming neon swimwear everyone is achingly dull, vapid youth marshalled into hedonistic pursuits before the reality of the college bills hit home and capitalist slavery takes hold. These are the bronzed victims of the “120 Days of Sodom,” not the perpetrators.
Everything is shot through a bubblegum lens, bright and delicious, sleazy and vicious. Simultaneously we condemn and condone the frailty of youth, the barbaric poolside hedonism that spits in the face of all that’s proper and decent. Like what? In “Spring Breakers” America’s institutions are themselves infected by pop-culture sensibilities. A lecturer refers to D-Day, as “Double-D” and Faith’s rock and roll preacher spouts wisdom like, “Are you crazy for Jesus? Are you jacked up for Jesus?” and “pray hardcore. Pray super hardcore.”
Gradually “Spring Breakers” plays on shuffle as scenes and dialogue are repeated, overlap and blur into a drugged up mess-any lurid sexploitation eroded by the film’s ponderous meandering. The girls are busted at a party and thrown into County until gangsta rapper/drug dealer Alien bails them out and wants to hang. Brit and Candy are mesmerised, Cotty a little more cautious but Faith sees through him and leaves. Would you want to really live in a 2-Live Crew video?
When most dealers are busted the police nearly always find “Scarface” in their DVD collection. Alien is no different, “I got Scarface. On repeat. SCARFACE ON REPEAT. Constant, y’all.” His pad is a scaled down Tony Montana mansion full of material nonsense and heavy weapons. He’s RiFF RaFF pontificating on his style,”All this shit! Look at my shit! I got…” Alien’s diatribe is ludicrous, hilarious as he lists everything from blue-Kool-Aid to shurikens to dark tanning oil. Ludicrous but he’s deadly serious, the uneducated American Dream sponsored by advertising.
Girls like Brit and Candy eat up Alien’s homogenised breed of gangsta rap lifestyle. As dubious as we are about Faith’s religion at least her moral compass is intact. Alien’s a deluded child and Brit and Candy’s warped adulation leads to a video game finale. They could be in “Chicks Who Love Guns” as they strut about with automatic weapons wiping out a rival gang, their hedonism reaching its logical conclusion. Whether that conclusion is ridiculous, exploitative, or a vital critique of vacuous celebrity remains a tantalising mystery.