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TIFF Capsule Review: 'Spring Breakers'

By Jason Anderson | Indiewire September 8, 2012 at 3:01AM

"Spring Breakers" wouldn’t be a Harmony Korine movie if it wasn’t polarizing in some way. Sure enough, the latest by the director of "Gummo" and "Trash Humpers" seems calculated to outrage, titillate and/or exhaust viewers with its gleefully nihilistic portrayal of spring break in St. Petersburg, Florida, seen here as a slickly stylized, slo-mo bacchanal of keg stands, bong hits and topless coeds. Of course, this is regarded as paradise for four college students who’ve just hit town, three of whom just robbed a diner to raise the money for their vacation. Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens give it their all as the very bad girls while Selena Gomez is allowed to retain more of her squeaky-clean image by playing the only one who displays any trepidation about the increasingly sordid events at hand. Having no such qualms, James Franco has rarely been cruder or funnier than he is as the braid-wearing rapper and drug dealer whose arrival kicks the mayhem up by several notches. But for all of Franco’s unhinged bravura, "Spring Breakers"’ greatest strength lies in Korine’s ability to present this toxic fantasy of youthful excess in terms that are simultaneously gorgeous and grotesque, with Benoit Debie’s stunning cinematography lending all the skeeziness a gloss worthy of Michael Mann. Criticwire grade: B+ [Jason Anderson]
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"Spring Breakers" wouldn’t be a Harmony Korine movie if it wasn’t polarizing in some way. Sure enough, the latest by the director of "Gummo" and "Trash Humpers" seems calculated to outrage, titillate and/or exhaust viewers with its gleefully nihilistic portrayal of spring break in St. Petersburg, Florida, seen here as a slickly stylized, slo-mo bacchanal of keg stands, bong hits and topless coeds. Of course, this is regarded as paradise for four college students who’ve just hit town, three of whom just robbed a diner to raise the money for their vacation. Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens give it their all as the very bad girls while Selena Gomez is allowed to retain more of her squeaky-clean image by playing the only one who displays any trepidation about the increasingly sordid events at hand. Having no such qualms, James Franco has rarely been cruder or funnier than he is as the braid-wearing rapper and drug dealer whose arrival kicks the mayhem up by several notches. But for all of Franco’s unhinged bravura, "Spring Breakers"’ greatest strength lies in Korine’s ability to present this toxic fantasy of youthful excess in terms that are simultaneously gorgeous and grotesque, with Benoit Debie’s stunning cinematography lending all the skeeziness a gloss worthy of Michael Mann. Criticwire grade: B+ [Jason Anderson]

This article is related to: Reviews, Toronto International Film Festival, Spring Breakers







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