In Spring Breakers (2012), Harmony Korine takes the core idea of Spring Break—a chance to be free of inhibitions and let yourself run wild—and takes it to the extreme. Perhaps exaggerating to make a point, he depicts four college girls who indulge themselves in the pursuit of true freedom to the point where two of them—as if invincible—murder a gang and speed off into the night. While one of the four quits after things get sketchy, and another quits after she’s shot, reality never hits the two girls who remain and truly give themselves “spring break for liiiife”. Their fantasy, what many people idealize that Spring Break partying might bring them, is found in a more true release of inhibitions. Drugs, partying and debauchery isn’t the road to ‘finding yourself’, becoming completely unrestrained in your actions is.
Throughout the film, Korine uses two particularly notable techniques, montage editing with repetition and colour filtered lighting, both of which give the viewer a highly sensory and highly subjective experiencing of what is depicted. Experiencing the onslaught of sounds and images, and rapt iterations of the same voice over speeches, augmented in that the context continually changes, the viewer feels the mood of the scenes. The atmosphere and rhythm absorb one into the film, so that the changes in coloured lighting and musical interludes cause emotional shifts that match the girls’ experiences.
Despite its ambition and frank attention to the instincts behind Spring Break fever and the hyper-sensory world of today, the film is chalk full of unnecessary and amateurish photography. Put in concert with the relatively poor acting and some awkward framing, the film itself becomes an illustration of the world it’s commenting on; superficial blockbuster-type images—often shown in slow motion—of topless women partying and gangsters spinning gats give the viewer a scopophilic pleasure that most Spring Breakers seek to actualize.
Whether Korine recognizes it or not, the film becomes somewhat contradictory, in that it’s content with these stand alone images of actions which the film wishes to hyperbolize. Spring Break isn’t about what you see in the latest hit pop music video, it’s about that desire to release yourself from the mundane, superficial, pop music life you’re used to. That said, the film’s grammar speaks to the same mundane, superficial life that the latest pop music video does. Because of this, I find that the film’s ideas have a more lasting impact than the aesthetic that it’s generated through. I have no need to see the film again, yet I feel oddly attracted to thinking about its message.