What can be said about “Spring Breakers”? Critics were divided on the independent art-film. the film received a moderate 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. While some critics couldn’t take to the supposed social commentary, others were quick to call the film a cult classic, often citing an outstanding performance by James Franco as Alien, a rapper who has climbed the financial ladder by becoming a notorious drug/firearm dealer.
Like many art-films before it, “Spring Breakers” often contains bizarre decisions in cinematography, editing and writing. A filmmaker’s creative workflow can often come off as too obvious or even too subtle. I will paraphrase Woody Allen: when the acclaimed filmmaker was asked about the secret to filmmaking he stated that there wasn’t one, you just have a story and you tell it.
Many films use certain techniques to manipulate an emotion from the audience to get their point across. Put simply, “Spring Breakers” was about the seduction of four young adults into the adrenaline-filled life of crime. The words “spring break” and “spring break forever” are muttered throughout the film, often as a voice-over and often from Franco’s character. Spring break, in this film, is a metaphor for the American Dream, and a life free of social responsibilities.
The four girls are at a stressful stage in life where they need to figure out what exactly they want to do with their lives. Candy, Cotty and Brittany have already been working the drug chain, from marijuana to cocaine, with Faith following right behind them. Their thirst for “spring break” pushes them to commit a robbery to gain the money they need.Once the four girls make it to St. Petersburg they are son acquainted with Alien (James Franco), as they attend drug and sex-addled parties. Once a party gets busted, the four girls are arrested and bailed out by Alien. The more the girls want to hang-out with this man, the more uneasy Faith feels. Reality hits her hard. She is scared and wants to go home. In a last-ditch effort Alien tries to seduce Faith into staying.
Alien could be representing seduction and peer-pressure, pushing her to continue down the wrong path. Faith comes to her senses and breaks away. Alien takes the three remaining girls to his big-beach home. As he shows his home to the girls, he is constantly bragging and chanting about all the “shit” he has. Possibly another example of seduction, these girls successfully robed a restaurant and they loved it. They loved the thrill, and they want the life Alien has.He goes on to tell the three girls that they are his soul-mates. Soon we are introduced to a conflict between Alien and another gangster named Big Arch (Gucci Mane). Alien has been selling drugs in Big Arch’s territory and Big Arch extends his threats. Son after Alien and the girls are shot-up in a drive-by. Cotty is shot in the arm.
When Faith was on the verge of imprisonment, she became broken and couldn’t continue this lifestyle. For Cotty it took a bullet, reality hits her and she parts ways with the crew. Brittany and Candy are the only two left. The rising-action to the climax of this film is the sexuality between Brittany, Candy, and Alien. Brittany and Candy have been successfully seduced into the lifestyle. The three-way sex scene acts as a metaphor to this.
Before the showdown between Alien and Big Arch, we hear a voice-over from Candy and Brittany as they call home. They promise to work harder and become better people. Alien is killed immediately after getting off the boat, Candy and Brittany kiss him and then proceed to take out an entourage of gang members and Big Arch himself. After all this, in Candy’s voice-over she describes the trip, or conversion into becoming a sociopath, as beautiful and she goes onto state that they have found who they truly are.They head back home in Big Arch’s Lamborghini. They have taken what they have always desired, spring break forever, the American dream forever, by taking what they want. Will this work out for them in the future? Most likely not. They were never really smart and didn’t exactly cover their tracks, and karma will likely catch up to them. The story is about their downward spiral and their obsession of the spring break lifestyle away from their small-town homes.
I loved this movie. I thought it was terribly underrated. Throughout high school and young adulthood we are faced with moral dilemmas, with peer pressure pushing us down the ladder. “Spring Breakers” exemplifies the descent step-by-step, from drugs to robbery to murder. Candy and Brittany are consumed by the darkness, their corruption is complete the moment Alien dies because they no longer need him.
Two untrained girls taking out an army of gangsters isn’t very realistic, but we have to keep in mind that this is an art film. This scene is displaying something more than what is seen visually. Faith and Cotty were able to escape this darkness through harsh realizations involving the danger they were in. In the youth group scene Faith is told specifically to watch out for Brittany and Candy, but not Cotty, possibly an example of foreshadowing.
And that’s why I believe “Spring Breakers” was genius in its own unconventional way. Well, that’s my take on it, what’s yours?