Film

The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola’s latest film, ‘The Bling Ring’ is a satirical and darkly comedic take on the real life teen burglars who robbed Hollywood celebrity homes…

Sofia Coppola’s latest film, ‘The Bling Ring’ is a satirical and darkly comedic take on the real life teen burglars who robbed Hollywood celebrity homes between 2008-2009.

Starring Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Emma Watson, Claire Julien and Taissa Farmiga, the film pokes fun at the shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture that dominates the vapid lives of these impressionable teenagers.

Almost all of them are privileged Californites whose dreams of living the lives of their ‘icons’ compel them (led by the ‘ringleader’, Rebecca) to burgle the homes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Partridge, Orlando Bloom and more. They simply use the Internet to find out the stars’ whereabouts, locate their houses, and break in when they are away. I’m still not 100% sure how accurate it was when they found Paris Hilton’s house keys under her doormat, or why none of those multi-million dollar homes have alarms…

Skepticism aside it is clear the ‘Bling Ring’ don’t see their acts as ‘burglary,’ but rather as free-for all ‘shopping’ trips for Louis Vuitton and Louboutins in order to live out their rich and famous fantasies whilst posting shameless selfies on their Facebook profiles.

The film’s style is quintessentially Coppola. I really like the authentic cinematography in many scenes that often makes it feel like a documentary. This is possibly used to ensure that the film doesn’t slip into a ‘glamourisation’ of the crimes, but rather keeps the audience at an observer distance from the events.

Interestingly, the film doesn’t try to force a deep moral message onto its viewers; nor does it make us feel too emotionally involved with the characters. Most of them effectively come across as one-dimensional caricatures of the real people they were based on. Most notably is Emma Watson’s performance as the narcissistic Nicki, whose comments and outfit choices (Uggs, Juicy Couture sweatpants and a tramp-stamp) will make you cringe and laugh.

The only character I personally felt a dash of sympathy for was Marc (Broussard), our kind-of protagonist who befriends Rebecca and becomes hurled into this world of robbery, glamour, money, drugs and pink stilettos. Whilst the others seem so caught up in themselves, Marc is the only one who manages to reflect on his generations rather sick obsession with Hollywood culture and feels genuinely remorseful for his actions. I would’ve liked to see some more development of the other characters, but the fact that they were left so surface-level may be a subtle way of Coppola saying that there really is nothing more to them…

If nothing else the film is genuinely very entertaining. It has a great soundtrack from the likes of Azealia Banks, Kanye West and Sleigh Bells, a sprinkling of celebrity cameos, and many quotable ignorant fashionista jokes that will leave you smiling, quoting and (somewhat ironically) Facebooking and ‘OMGing’ afterwards.

3.5/5 stars

We saw The Bling Ring at New Zealand International Film Festival www.nziff.co.nz

By Tia Ward
3 August 2013

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