Spring Breakers // Flashing Lights

Spring Breakers
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson and James Franco

This review contains spoilers

First, I'm going to try and describe the film in one paragraph. I'm not going to summarise what happens because you can probably do that in one sentence. I'm going to describe it by what the experience of watching it was like because the film is essentially an experience. The kind that is hard to forget.

The film is a feature-length music video that is also an MTV reality show that plays like a meta-realistic, hyperviolent videogame with characters straight out of your Facebook cladded like Victoria's Secret angels coming to shoot you on the face during your wet dream. 

That probably doesn't make sense. 

The film doesn't make sense either, for the most part anyway. But it feels strangely familiar. Like I've already been exposed to it but it's a mixed bag of everything we're continually exposed to: video games, violence, sex, reality TV, advertising, glossiness, flashing lights.

Right from the very beginning, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers brings its audience face to face with a Generation Y beachside bacchanalia complete with a Skrillex soundtrack and of course plenty of booze and young girls in bikinis (some not wearing any at all).

It didn't mock this particular lifestyle or a particular fantasy but it shows what it's like. However, Korine is clever in that he exaggerated everything - the lights are brighter, the surfaces are shinier, the women are hotter and the ridiculousness reached utter absurdity. He amps everything up to make us pay attention.

It's extremely confronting especially when you're part of the generation that it examines. When some scenes ring true, its familiarity is horrifying. One scene in particular rang true for me. The four girls are in bikinis and short shorts in a parking lot outside a convenience store. They pass around a bottle of alcohol and sing to Britney Spears' greatest hits. Then the three reenact a robbery they performed earlier, to pay for their spring break. 

The scene is familiar because we've all faced groups of drunken kids like those in a similar situation and admittedly have been one of those kids. Well, not anymore thankfully. Their loudness, the way they're dressed or the way they seem to exist within their own little world, completely enveloped in this alcohol-fuelled rapture is familiar. Even the way the scene and the space itself is lit. Those fluorescent, highly artificial neon lights that's synonymous with parking lots, nightclubs and public toilets. The kind that you only seem to really notice in stupor. It reminds me so much of Gaspar Noe's Enter The Void. Both films had the same cinematographer, Benoit Debie. Both these films capture this hazy, semi-conscious exploration of our desires and fantasy, of greed and selfishness and the lengths we would go to satisfy these.

The film's pace and the way is edited is similar to a Tumblr news feed. A montage of flashing GIFs, half naked young women, references to guns, gangs and 'swagger' culture punctuated with pretty pictures and pretty colourful things. 

The way the dialogue repeats itself and snippets of some scenes replaying again is comparable to the way reality shows stretches out the very insubstantial amount of material they have to work with. I grew up with reality TV and I found them fun to watch when I was younger but rewatching the same shows now I feel kind of sickened that I consumed so much of it at such an impressionable age. It is so mind numbing it should come with a health warning. They repeat themselves constantly. They talk about the same things, they all have the same problems and they all deal with them the same way. They say the same things over and over again: I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win...OMG she threw me under the bus...I've come a long way, since ya know, I came from a small town...It was so surreal...Let's all just move forward...That b**** is a hot mess.

You get the idea. 

In fact, some of the scenes from the film seem to be taken straight out of an episode of a reality show. The structure of the movie itself feels like a reality show, the way they get rid of the girls one by one and send them home when they can't handle it anymore (ooh! that reminds me of another overused phrase: If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen). 

Come to think of it, Alien as The Bachelor would make for really good TV.

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