Spring Breakers sees a couple of ex-Disney Channel actresses, clad in bikinis and obviously keen to shed their wholesome reputations, head to Florida to party for the spring break holiday.
You think you know what's coming next? Well, the guy who stood up during my screening and yelled "f**k this", then threw his rubbish at the screen as he left, obviously didn't.
Spring Breakers is an extraordinary film, a mish-mash of genres clearly intended to shock, provoke and titillate. It's an arthouse version of a T&A exploitation film, littered with pop cultural references, about just how far kids will go to get their kicks.
Director Harmony Korine made a name for himself by scripting Kids and directing Gummo, and it's clear from the start that his trashy, enigmatic lead characters Brit (Benson), Candy (Hudgens), Faith (Gomez) and Cotty (Korine) aren't average college girls. Three of them steal a car and rob a cheap restaurant to fund their pilgrimage to Florida, a trip they believe is necessary to "find themselves" and escape their mundane lives.
Escape involves integrating into the seedier side of Florida, which is made possible by meeting Alien (Franco), a drug-dealing, gun-wielding rapper living the American dream - gangsta style.
Though reality sets in for Faith, who heads home, Brit, Candy and Cotty embrace this violent fantasy life with enthusiasm.
Korine doesn't follow a strict linear format, preferring to flick back and forward in time, and to replay scenes with different footage. There are moments of fast action, but for the most part Korine takes his time letting the story unfold, shooting in slow motion with hand-held close-up shots that linger on lips, painted fingernails and bottoms shaking it Beyonce-style. He's also kept the dialogue to a minimum and it's often repeated as voiceover, which gives an ethereal tone.
There's a scene where Franco sings a Britney Spears song at the piano with his new proteges, and it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry. It pretty much sums up Spring Breakers. It's ambitious and audacious, and manages at times to be brilliant, boring, silly, sexy, cliched and poignant. If nothing else, it sure is memorable.
Cast: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine
Director: Harmony Korine
Running time: 94 mins
Rating: R18 (violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes)
Verdict: Arthouse meets exploitation movie in a riff on boobs, booze and letting loose