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Spring Breakers (Blu-ray Review)

5 Jul, 2013 By: John Latchem

Street 7/9/13
Box Office $14.12 million
$21.98 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout.
Stars Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco.

If you thought from its marketing campaign that Spring Breakers was a randy sex comedy featuring four hot, young Hollywood starlets, think again. While it does exhibit a fair amount of flesh, Spring Breakers is more of a disconcerting crime drama about four malcontented college girls whose attempts at escapism lead them into a world of sex, drugs and murder.

The four girls in question (played by Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez and Rachel Korine) are so desperate to break free of their routine that they rob a local eatery to fund their trip to Florida. When their extreme partying gets them arrested, they catch the attention of local drug kingpin Alien (James Franco, practically unrecognizable in dreadlocks and silver teeth), who draws them into a turf war with a rival gang. This isn’t simply a vacation gone awry; it’s a metaphor for the notion of living life with no boundaries and taking the idea of letting loose a little too far.

The divergence between the expectation of a film such as this and what it turns out to be was certainly not lost on the cast and filmmakers, who discuss the swerve at several points in the bonus materials (especially Gomez, who worried that her Disney fan base wouldn’t be able to accept her role in this one).

Writer-director Harmony Korine does little to glamorize spring break itself, presenting it as an out-of-control congregation of pure hedonism. The whole endeavor is shot in a visceral style with hand-held cameras and rapid editing, evoking the mood of a dream state.

Indeed, the bulk of Spring Breakers looks like one of those video loops you might see playing on the monitors at a beachside bar. This isn’t surprising, since Korine discusses in his commentary trying to shoot the film almost like a documentary or reality show. To add realism, filmmakers utilized actual spring break crowds, even staging wild ragers to get enough of the scenes they needed.

Aside from the commentary, the behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes and a deleted scene, the most interesting of the bonus materials might be the series of “Vice” featurettes profiling the real people and locations of the spring break culture.

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