While Spring Breakers may have received middle-of-the-road reviews from many critics, its merits as a film were also hotly contested by movie reviewers who couldn’t decide if having bikini-clad coeds commit crimes while wearing ski masks was unbelievably sexist or daringly feminist.
Reviewer Richard Roeper, in his coverage of the film for RogerEbert.com, called it “the most unforgettable movie of the year so far,” describing it as having the feel of a Girls Gone Wild! production while at the same time delivering an experience that felt like “raw, mad, avant-garde genius at work.”
Conversely, writer Heather Long, in her review for The Guardian, blasted the film for treating its female leads as sex objects and reinforcing rape culture, deftly weaving in current events in her review of a film she called “hardly unique.”
But, while critics may have been split on the ramifications of the film, it had a huge impact on at least one of its stars. Selena Gomez explained in an interview with Collider that the movie was very unlike the projects she’d done before, as a Disney star.
“I thought this was a great way to throw me into a huge acting camp, basically,” she explained. “It was going to be a low-budget indie. Harmony [the director] was giving us opportunities to improv, and he let us play. That’s really refreshing and rare. It was an actor’s dream, in a way.”
Watch Spring Breakers for yourself when it premieres on Netflix on January 10.