“Spring Break” Forever

Reuben Shupe, PaperClip Staff/Writer

Ten years ago, on March 15, 2013, “Spring Breakers” was released. The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t like it. It felt gross, scummy, and obnoxious. Something about it made me feel gross, like I needed a shower afterwards to escape what I had just witnessed. But I couldn’t get it out of my head. 

It stuck with me, so much so that I knew I had to watch it a second time. So I did, and I loved it. I’ve seen this movie, which is Rated R, around five times now, and every time I watch it it gets better. I will try not to spoil it here, as there’s really not much to spoil as the plot is secondary here.

The film is about four college girls who go to St. Petersburg for spring break.  A simple premise, but the movie is anything but simple. It’s a hard movie to describe to someone who hasn’t seen it. The plot in this movie doesn’t come first, and for some people, that will not be appealing. 

What director Harmony Korine does here is amazing. Korine, a prolific and genius director, didn’t make this movie for a plot. He made it for the atmosphere. If anyone goes into this movie expecting a narrative movie, they will probably be disappointed. The narrative here is more fluid, and Korine cares far more about engrossing the viewer in this hedonistic, poppy, landscape he puts on screen.  And it still feels gross and scummy every time I watch it, but I realized that is the point. You are supposed to feel uncomfortable. Once you realize that, the movie becomes something else entirely. 

While on the subject of Korine, his directing here is outstanding. He uses the camera in a confrontational way. The way the movie is filmed has a sense of perversion to it, not from Korine himself but to the audience. It’s as if Korine is holding up a mirror to the audience to ask them what they’re looking at, if they’re enjoying the debauchery onscreen. 

Korine mixes the insane party culture with very nostalgic, of the time imagery and sounds, the whole movie feels very cohesive from every facet. Korine focuses the camera on sunsets, somehow finding a sort of magic within this mess onscreen. He somehow is able to be both confrontational toward the audience, yet convinces us that these characters truly enjoy what is happening. 

The casting of this movie is also perfect. At the time of writing this, the perfection of the casting may be lost on some people, but at the time of release, three of the four main characters were Disney Channel stars. It really added to the scandalous feeling that the film takes on, making it feel like you are watching something you aren’t supposed to be seeing. But on the subject of acting, wow, the acting in this movie is incredible. 

James Franco gives possibly the best performance of his career as the gangsta rapper Alien. He is able to be both over the top and serious, with the few moments of seriousness his character does have being some of the most memorable. 

The film uses sound to add to the atmosphere of the film. The soundtrack is filled with pop and rap, it feels very of the time. It adds to the ideas about pop culture this movie puts out, the obsession with pop culture and party culture. Both soundtrack and soundscape adds to the atmosphere. The soundscape is filled with the sounds of guns firing and loading, even before real guns are seen on screen. It adds this level of uneasiness to the film. All of this really works to hammer home the themes of the movie. 

In short, “Spring Breakers” is one of the best and most overlooked movies of the last decade. It really uses all of its elements to create a unique and one of a kind experience. Korine is a genius. I would highly recommend this for anyone who can stomach a less linear experience and anyone who isn’t afraid of more hedonistic films. It makes for a very unique viewing experience.