The Beach Bum

A companion piece of sorts to 2013's Spring Breakers, The Beach Bum finds writer/director Harmony Korine back amongst Florida's wealthy lowlifes. This time the focus is on a fictitious Miami/Key West legend named Moondog, played to the breezy hilt by Matthew McConaughey. By all appearances, Moondog is an obnoxious mess, drunk and/or stoned 24/7 and doing whatever he feels like without regard for anyone else's feelings, personal space, or safety. Yet those in his orbit consider him not just the life of the party but a genius poet. There is nothing in this picture to suggest that Moondog's poetry is actually genius, but Korine himself never makes that call.

It will be pretty hard for most people to like The Beach Bum. I'm one of the small coterie of Korine defenders – the unwatchable Trash Humpers notwithstanding – and given his track record, the film's gorgeous cinematography (by Benoît Debie, who also shot Spring Breakers), and a game cast of A-listers, I can't write off The Beach Bum as a total failure. I suppose its message, provided that Korine's being sincere, is laudable: that life is to be lived and fun is to be had. But with only a wisp of a story and repetitive scenes that feel widely improvised, both Moondog and the movie quickly wear out their welcome. It's like a late Terrence Malick film, only a lot less serious and a whole lot raunchier.

Korine's obsession with American trash culture is nothing new, but his previous work at least had a sense of urgency and devastation about it. With The Beach Bum, it's as though Korine has gone through the looking glass – and he likes what he sees. The result is like watching a home video of a rich jerk's wild party that you were not invited to.