When the Spring Breakers trailer first came out, work in the NYLON office came to a standstill. The general consensus: If the movie is anything like the trailer, it's going to be awesome. Well, here's the thing: The Harmony Korine-directed film--which opens in New York City and Los Angeles today before a general release on March 22--is actually nothing at all like the trailer suggests. It's weird, trippy, meandering, and completely unconventional. It may not be Trash Humpers, but it's certainly no Pineapple Express, either. And if anything, it makes the beach-party-gone-bad concept even better.
Spring Breakers follows a foursome (played by Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) determined to do what it takes to escape their boring middle-of-nowhere existence and make it to Florida in time for spring break. They do all sorts of things that cute college-aged girls aren't supposed to do: shoot guns, rob diners, do drugs, steal cars, want sex, and trust the wrong types of people. But really, how the story unfolds is beside the point (as are the characters themselves--we literally learn nothing about them, other than that three have been friends since they were kids, and that one has gotten into religion).
What is the point then? For one thing, it's to send you on a visual trip; cinematographer Benoit Debie captures a woozy, color-saturated, sun-soaked Florida coast, where everything seems to be glowing neon (that is, when we're not seeing things flipped upside down or in a warped, drug-fuelled haze). It's impossible to look away--or not be entertained, for that matter. There's also the soundtrack, helmed by Cliff Martinez (who was behind the tunes in Drive) and Skrillex, which plays an even larger role in the movie than the dialogue itself. Indeed, it's not the narrative that matters (no matter what the trailer leads you to believe, there is no traditional plot or story arc to really speak of), but rather the themes that Korine clings to: the maddening boredom that drives so many college kids to go nuts for one week a year; the culture of consumption that drives people to do whatever it takes to line their walls with, say, hats that they'll never actually wear; the intersection between wanting to do the right thing and wanting to have fun; the pack mentality that takes over when you're no longer the only one asked to make decisions.
If what you want is what you see in the trailer--tidy heist caper featuring barely-legal girls and a cornrowed James Franco--then you'll be disappointed in Spring Breakers. If Korine's movies freak you out, or you demand Oscar-caliber acting (although we were truly wowed by Gomez's abilities), or you're not OK with a scene in which a white piano, pink ski masks, machine guns, and Britney Spears' "Everytime" somehow come together, you'll also be disappointed. But if it's a film that's as challenging as it is visually stunning, you'll leave the theater far happier than anyone featured in is.