The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s fifth feature film was first screened at the 2013 Cannes film festival to generally positive reviews from critics, surprising given the topic of the film. Based on a true story of a group of people, mainly girls, who went round robbing houses of the rich and famous in California, in particular, socialite Paris Hilton’s house which they robbed several times.

The cast of the film is made up of lesser-known actors headed up by Emma Watson, who takes a turn as Nicki Moore, a spoilt vacuous teenager who’s only goal in life is to party, go shopping and get famous. The story is primarily told through the eyes of Marc Hall (Israel Broussard) a relative outsider at the beginning of the film. As time goes by, we are introduced to more of the ‘Bling Ring’. Katie Chang who plays Rebecca, the coldest and most determined of the gang, particularly to meet her idol Lindsay Lohan. As well as being told from Marc’s eyes, we also see the story through news reports, Facebook posts and CCTV. The cast itself is ok, not amazing, Emma Watson does very well, but ultimately the characters they play are very one-dimensional. Which leads onto the general tone of the film.

The Bling Ring pokes fun at fashion trends, making them seem ridiculous

The Bling Ring pokes fun at fashion trends, making them seem ridiculous

The Bling Ring simultaneously celebrates, satirises and condemns celebrity culture. The celebrities they choose to rob are the type of celebrity they want to emulate. Paris Hilton, famously gaining her a-list place by capitalising on a sex tape, Lindsay Lohan, a famous child actress who is more known for her spells in rehab and court than she is her films. The Bling Ring also features a cameo from Paris Hilton and her house, in a strange turn. The act of Paris herself appearing is exactly the type of ‘fame’ the Bling Ring examines. She’s again capitalising on an event in her life, a particularly traumatic one. I find it very odd that she would let them film in the house the real Bling Ringers stole from, especially considering the Bling Ringers find bags of cocaine at her house. But then again why would she not? In this world, a little bit of class A has never done any harm to anyone… Kate Moss? Rob Ford?

The result of the Bling Ringers getting caught, is they are projected into the spotlight, becoming minor celebrities themselves. Celebrated on social media and given coverage on the news despite having no real discernible talent. But having said that, in a world of celebrity culture and voyeurism, what girl wouldn’t want everything they have? The Facebook sequences highlight this exactly. We live in a world where opinion, belief and talent do not matter, it’s simply down to your ability to show your status through photos and updates.

Anyone for some underage drinking and a selfie?

Anyone for some underage drinking and a selfie?

The problem with The Bling Ring, is that the topic of the film is so flat and vacuous, the film falls short in places, just turning into a montage of partying, drug taking, clothes, walking down streets in designer wear and ‘glam’ mug shots. The second half turns into an outright farce. Totally hilarious in parts, especially the scene with Emma Watson talking to a news reporter with her lawyers and mother by her side. It’s a film which I think was never going to win with it’s portrayal of the events, which are inherently so much more interesting, it’d be very difficult to create an exciting engaging film without polishing up the events, making them look cool and glamorous which in turn creates the wrong message. But maybe this is why the characters are so unlikeable, maybe this is why we don’t see any real talent in these people, because then we’d feel sorry for them.

Celebrating the 'uncelebratable'?

Celebrating the ‘uncelebratable’?

I think Coppola is trying to show the farcical nature of fame and celebrity, people become famous for things which you shouldn’t become famous for, yet we still hold these figures in high esteem. Nicki’s downright stupidity, i.e.  her belief she will run a country one day, highlights this. Do we really want to fund this person’s lifestyle? I stopped reading gossip magazines a long time ago purely because of this reason. But The Bling Ring isn’t telling us a story that is new, in not a particularly revolutionary way, but all the same, it’s worth a watch because of Coppola’s ability to tell and portray stories effortlessly. Even if it is obsessed with shoes, jewellery and nice cars, it’s shot in a way to show exactly why all this stuff is desirable, and what is so wrong with the ideology of it.

 

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