EVERY now and then a film comes along that seems so mental that it demands to be seen.
This year, Spring Breakers takes that title for a number of reasons.
First, it features the next steps by two Disney starlets, Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez.
Secondly, it is effectively the major Hollywood debut of Harmony Korine, the intriguing and slightly bonkers director of Mister Lonely and Trash Humpers.
Thirdly, it features James Franco wearing a grill made entirely of silver teeth, his hair in cornrows and wielding two hand guns at once.
If the name Harmony Korine means nothing to you, that’s not particularly surprising.
His particular brand of mind-bending weirdness has been pretty much confined to the States for much of his career, though he did pen the 1995 indie classic Kids.
How weird you ask?
Take this synopsis of an unreleased film called What Makes Pistachio Nuts? about a pig named Pistachio.
“The film was to take place during a race war in Florida and have a boy who would saddle the pig, put adhesive on its feet, climb up walls and throw molotov-cocktails. “It was going to be my masterpiece,” Korine comments.
The script burnt in a fire and Korine spent $11,000 trying to recover it from his computer.
This came after he had spent a number of months with illusionist David Blaine making a quasi-snuff film which revolved around Korine getting into fights with unsuspecting members of the public.
After six fights, he was hospitalized and abandoned the project.
Luckily, Spring Breakers takes all of his talent and finds it concentrated. In a way.
For this is no straightforward story of a group of girls on spring break.
It is not, in any way, a female Hangover.
It is a lurid, frenetic and really quite violent film that shifts gears from hedonism to nihilism in a seemless manner at the close of the second act.
The biggest problem that the film does encounter, however, is the shallow characterisation of its leading ladies.
Only Gomez’s Faith is properly convincing in her role as the God-fearing girl caught between her Lord and Alien, Franco’s absurdly fun rap-artist/criminal/father figure to the four girls.
From their initial meeting with Alien, a pervading sense of dread fills the film.
As the film careens, seemingly unstoppably, to its inevitable ending, Korine ratchets up the doom, signing scenes off with the clicking of a gun.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t expect the third act to come off the rails completely, such is the early set up.
It just feels like a film that will lose itself in a bloodbath or a sermon.
Luckily, Korine manages to avoid either and still keeps the absolute insanity rolling right along.
Having already turned in over six times its $2 million budget, there is no doubt that Korine will be in high demand.
Whether the next film features a pig, we’ll all just have to wait and see.