April 1, 2013

Movie Review: Don't get 'Spring Breakers'? That's all part of the plan

By MARK OLSEN, McClatchy Newspapers

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Rachel Korine, left, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens in “Spring Breakers.”

Annapurna Pictures


"SPRING BREAKERS," starring Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and James Franco. Directed by Harmony Korine. Rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout. Running time: 1:33

With his actresses playing against type, Korine's exploratory methods pressed them all into unlikely directions. After Gomez performed an emotionally draining scene with the other actresses, Korine pulled her into the backroom of the seedy pool hall they had been using as a location for a scene she had not been aware of.

"There were real moments in there," Gomez said of the scene in which Franco's rapper-gangster tries to persuade her character to stay by using a street hustler's emotional manipulation. "The way he was reacting really freaked me out."

For her part, Rachel Korine, 26, acknowledges she was something of a den mother to the other actresses. "I wanted them to know they could trust Harmony," she said. "I wanted them to feel protected and safe and that there were no mistakes."

In what may become the film's most notorious scene, after Franco's Alien delivers a long speech about all he has accomplished and acquired, Benson and Hudgens' characters turn the tables in an electrifying moment where they brandish handguns in a sexually charged way.

"He just wanted us to push it and then push even further," said Hudgens of Korine's direction for the scene, which began to take shape in rehearsals but went to startling places while shooting.

"I didn't think that I would do any of that," said Benson. "When I see that scene I'm like, 'Oh, my God.' "

"Spring Breakers" is among the initial releases of fledgling distributor A24, which looks to be cornering the market on films that work the intersection of the art house and youth audiences, including "Ginger & Rosa," starring Elle Fanning; Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring;" and recent Sundance hit "The Spectacular Now."


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