Spring Breakers is a fluorescent dream, an elusive ode to excess. Korine’s film is gorgeously ugly, illuminating the worst of human behaviour in swathes of hypercolour; neon bikinis pulsing in streaky, candy-coloured lights.
Spring break is an escape, an emblem of the modern American dream – not to work hard for success, but the aspiration to do nothing and have everything. The first act of the film regularly cuts between a shiny MTV version of spring break; grubby, out-of-focus camcorder footage, and the garish orange and pinks of reality as perceived by four college girls indulging their desires.
Maybe reality is the wrong word. Spring Breakers isn’t interested in reality, instead presenting the American dream as an actual dream, hazy and insubstantial. The film is choppily edited, flitting between now and then, repeating snippets of dialogue as its characters ruminate on unfulfilled aspirations (“I just wanna do better”) or escapism, a strongly-held desire to hold back the floodgates of the real world. Characters do escape to normality – one way or the other – but the film leaves them behind: spring break forever.
Korine takes what could have been trashy – spring break, sex, drugs, Skrillex soundtrack – and spins it into something luminously captivating.