Spring can wait on this evidence

Selena Gomez,   Vanessa Hudgens,   Rachel Korine and Ashley Benson  in Spring Breakers
Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine and Ashley Benson in Spring Breakers

Because it is directed by Harmony Korine, the maverick arthouse director and writer of Kids, you assume there must be more to Spring Breakers (Cert 18) than just being a titillating display of cavorting scantily-clad bodies, mostly blonde and beautiful.

Perhaps there is some message about the futility and emptiness of youthful hedonism, but that just makes it an extremely empty film, not helped by frequent reptition of images and voiceover.

What it does have is energy, visual style and an arresting performance by James Franco.

The story is about four bored female students who are so desperate to join the annual spring revelry in Florida they rob a fastfood restaurant to raise the money.

The four - friends from childhood, we gather - are pretty indistinguishable – apart from one, Faith, who is dark-haired and religious, and Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director’s wife) whose blonde tresses have red streaks.

The fact that the other actresses playing these debauched hussies are Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson who all made their names in wholesome Disney fare is perhaps aimed at making it all the more shocking.

After a few days of full-on partying the girls are arrested in a drugs bust and to their surprise are bailed out by white gangsta rapper Alien (enter Franco with cornrows, metallic teeth and a dollar-sign neck tattoo). He clearly has sinister designs but the girls don’t seem to mind, except Faith who takes the next bus out of town – and out of the movie. At that point you wish you could too.

The film does at least have its moments of crazy humour such as when Franco sits at a white piano on his seaside terrace singing Britney Spears’ Everytime accompanied by the gun-toting girls in pink pussy balaclavas. By then the film has moved into gang warfare mode showing that the girls will stop at nothing. But to what end?