‘Spring Breakers’ Director Harmony Korine Set to Adapt Controversial Novel ‘Tampa’
I’m not really sure how audiences feel about filmmaker Harmony Korine. Critics certainly love his work; in the recent BBC poll of the greatest films of the 21st century, Korine’s 2012 millenial anthem Spring Breakers placed 74th on the list, ahead of notable movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street and Finding Nemo. This was despite the fact that Spring Breakers has an IMDb user score of 5.3, a quick and easy way to measure general audience opinions (and easily the lowest for all the movies on the BBC list).
So when The Playlist reported that Korine is currently at work on a feature film adaptation of Alissa Nutting’s controversial 2013 novel Tampa, it may not have moved the needle as much for your average movie-goer as it did for the BBC panelists. Most critics described the book as something of a gender-swapped Lolita, where a 26-year-old middle school teacher pursues one of her male 14-year-old students. There was potential here for Nutting to flip the script on sexual abuse — to show that abuse is abuse, regardless of the genders involved — but many of the reviews seemed to suggest that Nutting’s novel fell just short of really resonating. The Washington Post, for example, noted that Nutting played the book’s finale more for laughs than anything else.
Regardless of whether the book works or not, this is a pretty obvious match between subject matter and director. Ever since his breakout film Kids, Korine has been associated with films that take a no-holds-barred look at adolescent sexuality. As The Playlist notes, Slate author Dan Kois specifically asked for someone to “hire Harmony Korine to make the movie, ASAP" in his recap of the best books of 2013. Time will tell whether we need to carve out another spot on the BBC 100 for Korine’s Tampa adaptation.