Film review: School's out for Disney's young graduates in Spring Breakers


Harmony Korine's fifth feature film (or seventh when you count the scripts he wrote for Larry Clark's Kids and Ken Park) is about the steadily more wild and debauched behaviour of four nubile young women in bikinis during spring break – a rite of passage that, if several teen movies are to be believed, is one of the main benefits of a US college education.

Featuring more sunshine, drugs, guns, neon and naked flesh than Scarface and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City put together, a pulsating score by the US electronic music star Skrillex, and the former Disney Channel starlets Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as you've never seen them before, Spring Breakers is easily Korine's most marketable film.

But it is just as divisive, and just as calculated to induce moral panic as his others. Lots of critics have complained about the film's exploitative tone or an absence of conventional plot structure. But it's the neutrality or inscrutability of the film's moral stance that really upsets people.

The action takes place in a woozy dream-state in which the girls' sense of moral responsibility has melted away; the narrative is non-linear and looping, so that consequence no longer follows action. The phrase "A break from reality" is repeated like a mantra.

It is a powerful evocation of what it must be like to be young, white, beautiful and stupid; among friends, on drugs, on holiday; living in the moment and without a thought for tomorrow. It feels at least as exhilarating as it does worrying and wrong.