on 16 October 2016
I've never reviewed anything on Amazon before, despite using it for years. So why now? Well, this film has received a lot of very negative reviews. And whilst it has also received it's fair share of positive ones, I still felt the impulse to weigh in with my own, very positive review.
So, this film didn't start well for me at all. In fact my partner went to bed after about the first half an hour, completely disinterested. It's true, the first act of the film is fairly graphic, and with plenty of nudity. Although in fairness, it is in keeping with the film's authenticity, as although I'm no expert, I would imagine this is exactly how young people would behave on spring break, having been away from home for possibly the first time. Plus, it's attention-grabbing, whether for the right, or the wrong reasons.
I think the secret is not to turn the film off at this point, but to continue watching. Don't be put off. As things head into act two, things start to get more interesting. The girls are vacuous and one-dimensional, granted, but then, enter one James Franco. Franco is a very good actor, that's probably difficult to dispute. He plays Alien, a rapper and a gangster, and a man of many other labels, all bad. His performance is so good here, that although the film isn't carried by one actor, if it had needed to be, he could have done so.
Digressing for a moment; there is a certain type of person that I will refer to as a casual filmgoer. This is the kind of person that will sit through a film at the cinema (or at home), and come out afterwards, unimpressed, and talking only about what they didn't like about it. These are the kinds of people that should not watch this film. I just don't think they would understand it. Although this may sound patronising; it isn't supposed to. It's merely a fact. Your casual filmgoer wants things to move fast, and have a plot. In other words they want it to be accessible. This film is none of those things. This film has heart and soul. It has atmosphere, magic, authenticity, originality, relatability, and most of all, for me at least, it had resonance. It continued to play through my mind for days after I saw it. I got online looking for anything related to it - interviews, clips, pics, actor bios, you name it. Harmony Korine (the filmmaker) said two things stay in his memory after he has seen a film he has enjoyed - characters and scenes. These two elements are also what are most important to me. At the risk of sounding a bit gushy, this film is a love story. A very contemporary, unusual and misdirected one, but one nonetheless. There is a particularly touching scene with a piano and a Britney Spears song. This scene was so real and lucid, and could so easily have gone wrong. As it was, it was done masterfully, and instead of being cheesy or funny, it was brilliant, and really seemed like the kind of thing that would happen in real life.
I've really enjoyed the stuff Korine has been involved with in the past (Kids, Gummo, Ken Park, Last Days) so I suppose this makes me a bit biased. Or at least very optimistic. So much so, in fact, that I bought the bluray before I'd seen the film, which is unusual for me. I usually only want a copy of something I have seen and loved.
The film cover looks a bit like a fun teen romp. Something that may appeal to the American Pie/Road Trip fan base. Please, please, read a few reviews before watching this and then leaving a negative review, as otherwise you are doing it an undeserving disservice.
And for those of you that like your films with substance, passion and longevity, watch this, and let it consume you.