Theresa Smith

WITH Spring Breakers, writer and director Harmony Kordine (screenwriter of Kids) does what Sophia Ford Coppolla tried with Bling Ring.

He shows us the vacuity of a particular subset of American youth, this time engaged in a traditional Easter holiday break in Florida.The difference, though, is he suggests a possible reason for their dangerously stupid behaviour, positing that those who believe in nothing will fall for anything.

Another screamingly obvious difference is copious amounts of gratuitous nudity and violence. The binge-drinking and raunchy behaviour are part of the spring break ritual – as immortalised and further fetishised with the spring break videos (with names likes Spring Break Cancun Sexy Girls Oasis 2014) and Hollywood’s stylised gangsta action movies.

This film is centred on a group of four bored college girls desperate to be with their (just as nihilistic, though they probably couldn’t spell or explain the word) friends on the beach in Tampa Bay, Florida.

So, as all kids do, Brit (Benson), Candy (Hudgens) and Cotton (Korine) commit a robbery and use the money to get to Miami, where they proceed to have a wonderful time, hiring mopeds, drinking lots of alcohol, snarfing coke and living the life they have been taught is what they should aspire to.

In bit of irony she doesn’t even recognise, girl number four, Faith (Gomez), calls her grandmother and describes the holiday as simply the most amazing time ever, describing the deep connection she has made with her friends. This is where the girls have come to find themselves and she revels in the freedom of not being dictated to.

She has this introspective spiritual conversation while images of every little bit of debauchery imagined get enacted in hotel rooms, on the beach and streets of (supposedly) St Pete Beach, Florida.

When they are arrested for drunken behaviour, James Franco swoops in like a tattooed, hedonism-preaching scary angel named Alien, with his smooth tongue and deviously manipulative manner.

Suspicious of his motives, Faith bails, but the others remain, which is when the film starts descending into a nightmarish world of drug and gun trafficking.

The truly scary part is how the girls justify their illegal behaviour, saying they simply want to be free to do as they please.

The ultimate irony is that Alien is controlling them for his own end. Okay, so it is hitting you over the head that the one person who doesn’t fall for it is named Faith, but no one ever accused American film-makers of being subtle.

While the movie often teeters over the edge into cheesy campiness, the hallucinatory, saturated cinematography, with looped sequences, makes for trippy, compelling viewing.

This film didn’t exactly break the US box office, showing as it does a rotten moral core of a particular subset of American youth, who are constantly bombarded with conflicting images about how they are supposed to behave and then lambasted for doing exactly as they are urged to do.

lSpring Breakers screens at the Labia on Orange.