Written and directed by Harmony Korine, ‘Spring Breakers’ is a wild hallucinogenic tale of four girls meandering through their inner desires while on spring break. Korine envisaged this crime drama as a sensory experience bombarding us with unsettling visuals symbolic of unabashed desires and self-indulgence. Like other Korine films (‘Kids,’ ‘Gummo’), ‘Spring Breakers’ is unapologetically titillating and is meant to polarize the viewer. A visual experience in its own right, this film takes us through the boisterous energy of spring break by capturing it in dizzying frames. Rich with a neon aura, the film is a descent into a vortex of excesses revolving around its characters’ tender bodies.
The film stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and James Franco in lead roles. Korine filmed his actors to depict their vulnerabilities and strengths in a surreal way. The film itself is a visual delight, caring none too much about chronology and resting solely on the moving images’ rapid flow. ‘Spring Breakers’ made us rethink through its dreamish fable, and thus we tried to figure out its significance. Here’s what we have for you. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Spring Breakers Plot Synopsis
Candy, Brit, Cotty, and Faith are four friends who have known each other since kindergarten. Candy, Brit, and Cotty are wily college girls who are tired of their mundane routine. Faith, on the other hand, is religious and attends the church and sermons diligently. Near spring break, the four of them long to head out to Florida for a fun-filled getaway. In a chemically induced introspection, they find out that they are short of the requisite amount of money for the trip.
As rambunctious as they are, Candy, Brit, and Cotty decide to rob a local diner to compensate for their monetary inadequacies. Wearing make-shift balaclavas, they barge their way into the diner and loot the customers. Cotty is their designated driver and manages to take them to safety after the deed is done. Faith gets to know about this little adventure and is visibly surprised at her friends’ audacity. All this happens after her fellow-church goer warns her about the potential evil of her company. Shrugging it off, Faith joins her friends for spring break in Florida.
They have the time of their lives in Florida, indulging in all of their suppressed desires: drugs and debauchery sprinkled with a little bit of introspection. The girls are apprehended by the police while at a rave party in a local motel along with some other people. They are brought to court and asked to furnish bail money for their release. A local rapper and gangster named Alien arranges for their bail and gets them out. The girls are relieved at their release, but at the same time, they are confused about the magnanimous act by Alien. Faith, having had enough of the situation, decides to leave for home. Candy, Cotty, and Brit stay back with Alien, becoming a part of his lavish yet dangerous life.
Spring Breakers Ending: What Happens to Faith and Cotty?
In the end, only Candy and Brit are together with Alien. The violent confrontation of Alien with his enemy, Big Arch (Gucci Mane), leaves a big dent in his male-ego. In addition to that, Candy’s and Brit’s borderline jeering coaxes Alien into getting his revenge. The sexual collusion between Alien, Candy, and Brit creates a tension that can only be released via a climactic act. In essence, the film’s energy is contained within the sexual act, which is liberated through a montage of a violent shootout.
The trio attacks Big Arch’s house, and surprisingly, Alien is the first to be gunned down. Candy and Brit are not perturbed by it and shoot down all of the henchmen, and ultimately, Big Arch. Rather than depicting it as a vengeful climax, it turns into a ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ situation, albeit an all-female version. The climax surmises that the last act is not about Alien’s domineering gangster persona; instead, it is about Candy’s and Brit’s penchant for violence, which is casual in its outlook.
After committing the shootout, they both kiss Alien’s lifeless body goodbye and veer off on their way back. They drive into the sunset, leaving their short stint behind and emerging victorious from the encounter with their dangerous indulgences. Faith is the first one to leave Florida and return to her home. Alien’s interaction with Faith is similar to the temptation of Mephistopheles. Alien bails them out and takes a strange liking to Faith in particular.
Alien is not depicted to be a messianic figure but instead, is a symbol of temptation and urges. Faith manages to ward him off because her instincts warn her about the perils of desire. It is interesting to note that only Faith has some background established in the film. Her religious affiliations and Korine’s not-so-subtle naming of the character have to do with depicting choices: a choice whether to give in to the energies of youth or to show restraint, guided by religious underpinnings.
Cotty is shown to be a sexually charged female who doesn’t shy away from exploring her physical impulses. She holds her ground with Candy and Brit while Faith leaves the place. They all join Alien in his self-indulgences and become a part of his group. Alien serenades the trio by the waterfront, playing Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’ on the piano. This particular montage is the most disjunctive of all sequences in ‘Spring Breakers.’
The mellow music, paired with surreal visuals of skimpily clad women in balaclava engaged in acts of violence, surmises the visual aesthetic of Korine. The discord of the images, music, and editing doesn’t let the viewers stick to the narrative. It is a tender moment depicting the women’s submission to Alien’s temptation. Sometimes after, Cotty ends up getting shot in her hand, loses her strong demeanor, and rushes back home. Korine doesn’t allow his viewers to settle down on one thread of the narrative; instead, he provides a new meaning every time we expect continuity.
Why Do Candy and Brit Join Alien in His Revenge?
After Cotty leaves for her home following the violent shootout with Big Arch, Candy and Brit push Alien to act in vengeance. A memorable scene of the film is when Alien shows his weapons collection to the girls with glee. He invites them to join his bandwagon and bask in his glory. The girls are allured by Alien’s hypnotic rant and enthusiastically participates with Alien in his drug-fuelled rant. The shootout allows Candy and Brit to relive the power they felt while committing the armed robbery. Their jeering and light-hearted mocking about Alien being scared, get him charged up. Thus, he drives a motorboat to Big Arch’s home to attack him. They persuade Alien to attack Big Arch and thus ensues the final act of ‘Spring Breakers’ where the girls gun down Big Arch and all of his men.
The final sequence is effectively aided by Benoit Debie, the cinematographer, whose characteristic jittery neon aesthetics-never allows the viewer to settle down as it enforces a maddening rush. Alien’s abrupt death points out that only Candy and Brit emerge unscathed; they are able to control the enigma of spring break and return to their lives. More than a celebration of the inexhaustive fervor of youth, ‘Spring Breakers’ is about taking control of one’s own hedonistic impulses.
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