Girls Gone Gangsta

‘Spring Breakers’

Spring Breakers has attracted a fair amount of buzz, but it’s an uneasy buzz. The initial scenes—with the camera fixed on the boobs and butts of adolescent girls gyrating on Florida beaches, saluting the skies with beer cans, the beer sloshing down over their chins, chests, and bare midriffs—provoke the question: Is this just a big-screen version of Girls Gone Wild? But then writer-director Harmony Korine cuts away to silent, vacated dorm rooms and the sudden hush seems like an authorial reproach to the riot on the sands. Next we’re in a dim lecture hall with a teacher expounding the post–World War II reconstruction of Europe while one of our heroines-to-be giggles with a pal and draws penises in her notebook. Is this a smart-alecky swipe at the instructor’s earnestness or a reproach to unworthy American youth who will never reconstruct any country, including their own? Glimpses of an on-campus Christian prayer meeting add more ambiguity: Is the over-the-top enthusiasm for Jesus a salvation road unheeded by the beach bacchants or is it merely another way of blowing off steam, neither more nor less mindless than a beer bash? Spring Breakers doesn’t have the single-mindedness of porn or reality TV, and for that, I suppose, we should be grateful.

Three girls—Candy, Brit, and Cotty—realize they don’t have enough money for the spring revels, and so decide to knock over a fast-food joint....

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.