Film review | Spring Breakers – A riot of sex and drugs and gangsta rap for Disney starlets Gomez & Hudgens

Spring Breakers - Serena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson

A wild ride of a movie, Spring Breakers finds gleeful cinematic provocateur Harmony Korine pitching a bunch of former teen starlets into a headlong spree of sex and drugs and gangsta rap.

With that all-American college ritual spring break looming, it’s party time for bored students Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director’s wife) and Faith (Selena Gomez).

Lack of funds proves no obstacle when three of the girls steal their professor’s Camino convertible and hold up a fast-food joint with water pistols (‘Just pretend it’s a video game.’), picking up the more innocent Faith as they take off for Florida.

Spring Breakers - Serena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens

After a spell of non-stop partying lands them in jail, the foursome find themselves unexpectedly bailed out by local rapper/would-be druglord Alien (James Franco), who leads them into ever more debauched and dangerous territory…

With his hair in cornrows and grills on his teeth, Franco’s character takes his look from a variety of current rappers (including Florida’s Dangeruss), but he’s very much a stand-in for the director, shockingly leading astray Disney alumni Hudgens (High School Musical) and Gomez (The Wizards of Waverly Place).

SpringBreakers - James Franco as Alien

The sight of these hitherto family-friendly starlets getting up to no good amid a heaving sea of nubile flesh is certainly shocking, but Korine’s mash-up of innocence and hedonism is eye-popping throughout the movie.

When the girls launch themselves on Florida’s party scene, Korine depicts the ensuing carousel of dissipation in day-glo, candy-flavoured colours. And when two of them embark on their final criminal raid, with real guns this time, they sport a childlike combination of yellow bikinis and pink ski masks.

Throughout, Korine gives us the girls’ naïve, dreamy voiceovers (very Terrence Malick), which only adds to the film’s trance-like, trippy mood. Don’t expect any startling insights into the current state of American youth culture, but Korine does deliver the odd amusingly satirical swipe (showing off his wads of cash, guns and bling, Franco’s Alien proudly declares he has ‘Scarface on repeat’). The film looks fabulous, and so do the cast. Gomez, Korine, and above all Hudgens and Benson, throw themselves into their roles with giddy abandon and Franco’s no-holds-barred performance is a hoot.

In cinemas from Friday 5th April.

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