Harmony Korine, a polarising filmmaker known for challenging convention at every opportunity, has in Spring Breakers made his most subversive film yet. What at first glance seems typical mainstream fodder – four teenage girls trying to get enough cash together to join thousands of students in Florida for the ultimate hedonistic party, and getting in all sorts of scrapes once they get there, with a cast including former Disney starlets Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez – is of course typically wilful misdirection on the director’s part.
Instead, the film is a contemplative and melancholy study of stifling smalltown life, the desperate search for validation and identity, and the soulless underside of American society, all filtered through Korine’s day-glo aesthetic and approached in his usual elliptical style. The performance art piece that is James Franco’s career continues with a bizarre but committed turn as local rapper Alien, and Korine’s sensibility is best exemplified by a montage of violence and mayhem soundtracked by, of all things, a Britney Spears ballad. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)
Harmony Korine – Breaking Out, a season of films to coincide with this new release, will run at the IFI from April 3rd to 14th.