Movie Review: Spring Breakers

This film image released by A24 Films shows, from left, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens in a s
This film image released by A24 Films shows, from left, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens in a scene from "Spring Breakers." (AP Photo/A24 Films, Michael Muller)

No one will ever accuse me of being a fan of Harmony Korine's films.

But I was surprised by his newest, Spring Breakers (opening in limited release Friday 3/15/13), which seems like a Girls Gone Wild video with automatic weapons, but is actually a bit deeper (and even creepier) than that.

Korine's films, up until now, have seemed self-indulgent and puerile, gross and sensational for its own sake. Whether it was half-naked women with electric tape covering their nipples jumping on a bed (Chloe Sevigny being one of them) in the impenetrable Gummo or people wearing old-age makeup having sex on garbage heaps in Trash Humpers, Korine struck me as someone who had too much license and too little vision.

That may still be the case, but I found myself surprisingly caught up in Spring Breakers -- not for its cheap titillation (there's plenty) but for the hollowness of the people it depicts. It's populated with characters who seem to have no interior life -- only a devotion to the pursuit of sensation via the eternal party. And, in his own oblique way, Korine offers commentary about just how empty that world is.

Or maybe I'm just reading that in. But that, at least, was my takeaway from this otherwise slight, abrasive film.

This review continues on my website.