CONTAINS SPOILERS AND A CONFESSION
Let's get one thing out of the way first: I've never seen a Harmony Korine film until now. So I've no idea whether Julien Donkey-Boy, Gummo and Trash Humpers are in any way similar to this sleazy, garish and magnificently shot crime drama/thriller. It'd be great if they were, but I suspect they're not. This is a genuine cross between art and exploitation that basically comes across like a Girls Gone Wild video as directed by Michael Mann: a combination of empty, depressing reality and the hedonistic fantasy excesses of meaningless, eternal partying, but photographed like it's Manhunter or Heat.
Four girls (led by Vanesa Hudgens and Selena Gomez) escape from their miserable college campus for the Spring Break holidays and run away to "find themselves" on the dazzling sunlit beaches for an indefinite period of wild partying. Having stolen a car and robbed a diner to pay for their adventure, it's not long before the dream palls and they're arrested and jailed (still in their bikinis) for narcotics offences. The dream, and the group, collapses when they're bailed out by Alien (an unrecognisable James Franco), a dreadlocked silver-toothed gangster who seeks to seduce the girls into his equally empty, equally meaningless but considerably more lucrative (his catchphrase is "Look at all my s***!") criminal lifestyle....
Spring Breakers is absolutely fantastic to look at, especially on BluRay: the scorching dayglo of the endless beach parties and beer-fuelled horseplay on the beaches, the mesmerising sunsets or the wonderfully lit night scenes. It's arguable as to whether the lack of any characters worth giving more than a wet hoot about is important in a film showcasing nothing but wild excess. To be honest, I was probably happier watching the girls having a good time than seeing them face up to the consequences of their phenomenally stupid actions (although the car theft and armed robberies are never mentioned afterwards), or to see everything turn sour and serious with actual bullets flying and lives taken, while the voiceover loops an earlier scene of one of the girls burbling about how they've found out who they really are.
Nevertheless, for the fabulous photography and the endless parade of bikini beach babes (despite the 18 certificate, the film never goes beyond comfortable softcore nudity; that's more for the drug use and the weapons grade swearing), it's a surprisingly light and enjoyable movie, until it all goes Scarface in the final half hour. I did like it far more than I expected to, though I would have liked to have cared more about the characters beyond a slight sense of relief when one of the girls decides she's had enough. But I'm still glad I never had Spring Break at my school. I'd have hated it.
Look at all my s***!