Deciding on going to see Spring Breakers was a relatively easy process, especially with our current mindset something of wanting to find "hidden gems." Of course, there is the obvious T&A factor going on in this film, which is why movies like Piranha 3D are seen, but there was something more to this film. My friend pointed out that the film had a 62% Tomato rating, which is not insignificant; combined with an audience rating of nearly 50%, you have a fairly conflicted film that has there. Now, I'm not one to put too much credence into a critic rating, as I have thoroughly enjoyed low rated films and disliked high rated ones. In any event, we had gone to see Warm Bodies a while back in the theatre and we both enjoyed it: it is not typically a film we go to see in the theatre, so it was easy to reason going to see Spring Breakers the other night.
We were not expecting what we saw. From the outset – indeed, the first few minutes of the movie – is pure party madness. In what sounds like a heavy Skrillex beat, we are introduced to slow motion nakedness and party madness, immediately justifying the films 18A (in Canada)rating and setting the town for a depraved, sex induced 90 minutes of depravity. What we get instead, is a cut from that scene into the college life of our four female protagonists in their classes and dorm rooms – a stark contrast to the litany of colours we were just blasted with. The girls are obsessed with going on spring break but lack the funds to do so; we're warned that a couple of them are bad news but the "good girl" Faith (played by Selena Gomez) decides to go along anyway. They are all looking for escape from the terrible-ness of their college life.
And quickly, the film shocks you with a supercharged robbery scene that is filmed from the point of view of the getaway driver, who is slowly circling the unfortunate diner. We get to peer through the windows – a true spectator – at the mayhem inside, and are taken aback by the actions of the characters. Now we know their true nature, right? Not quite. The girls get to go to spring break and we are treated again to more colour, more fun and more nudity. Enter Franco, playing a drug dealer named Alien and we get into new levels of depravity that really grabs your attention. At this point, the film could turn into a generic horror film: college students go on vacation, get mixed up with the local scene and end up getting murdered in gruesome ways, but that's not what you get here. Spring Breakers delivers something much more interesting.
The film has a very dream-like feel to it: full of montages, repeating narration and quick, inserted scenes that flash back to the initial robbery and also flash forward to imagery that can give hints on what is to come. There is a certain level of grittiness that appears throughout – except the party scenes, which are split into colourful acts of indecency and documentary style shots of party goers that makes you believe (and realize) that this stuff is actually happening and does not just exist in the movies.
Franco pulls in a great performance as he truly embodies his character; there is a level of realism and silliness presented to us. In one scene, he is showing off his "stuff" which is his room full of guns and money. But he practically improvises here, showing off that he has shorts in every colour, and draws attention to his nunchuks instead of the wall of automatic guns – arguable more lethal and illegal. He's charming the girls, without fully knowing himself what they are capable of or have done in the past. It's fitting that his name is Alien: a true and literal representation of this other world the girls have visited. When one of the girls leaves, they are gone and we, the viewer stay on the alien planet. We can take solace in knowing that she is safe now, but we can't truly know the damages that have been done because we never leave this planet ourselves and there is no contact with the real world. I have to wonder how much is dream and how much is reality, but I realize it's not that type of situation. This is a dark, dark film with a very dark ending. It's about how far these people are willing to go in order to escape their regular lives and embrace another: they specifically tell themselves to think of it like a video game, and that's kind of what we get. It's scary for us to see that transition; it's scary to see the mayhem and negative morals, and uncomfortable to see them travel down the twisted path, especially since the only somewhat relatable character – the one with common sense – checked out quite some time ago.
While it may not be forever known as a hidden gem, Spring Breakers was a really good watch. Opposed to a generic action movie (looking at you Olympus Has Fallen) this movie was exactly what we were looking for: a thought provoking and more importantly, a discussion provoking film that is open to interpretation. We couldn't simply walk away and go our separate ways afterward, we had to stay together and talk about what we've just seen. And if it's one thing that will stick with you after this movie, is to never let your daughter go to spring break. Ever.