Film: The Bling Ring
Director: Sofia Coppola
Running Time: 95 minutes
Year of Release: 2013
A change of pace from her usual directing gigs, Sofia Coppola serves us an extreme view of teenage life in our technologically advanced and celebrity-orientated twenty-first century. The Bling Ring is high school on speed, (well, on cocaine, at least) and illustrates the downward spiral that any teenager could potentially experience.
Set in L.A. California, The Bling Ring follows a group of teenagers who commit a string of robberies on celebrities including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Audrina Partridge. Starring an array of big-screen names as well as some newcomers, including Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, the film’s main marketing ploy was Emma Watson.
Having seen the 2011 version of the film, I had a number of preconceived views of what to expect. Despite preferring hunky blond Austin Buster as the anxious and naïve Marc (without the homosexuality), I found Coppola’s rendition to be altogether seamless. The voyeuristic filming adds to the audience’s discomfort, while the range of female characters make for a very eccentric group of young criminals.
The documentary style of filming and awkwardly long shots of uncomfortable situations brought the film from critically commenting on real life events to the realm of a satirical black comedy. I seesawed between loving and hating each of the characters, for all of their graces, flaws, and perfections.
Watson is particularly impressive in her role as Nicki, the queen bee and compulsive liar, where her typical good-girl image in the Harry Potter series was nowhere to be seen. Manipulating and mesmerizing, instigators Nicki and Rebecca’s (Katie Chang) lack of compassion, caution, or awareness for their actions still somehow leaves you rooting for them. Their precocious yet naïve viewpoints only flourish through neglectful or ignorant parents.
In comparison to the 2011 version, I think the audience is left a little in the lurch in terms of the police involvement and the trial process of the film. It felt a bit rushed and ill informed, especially in the last scene. The trial moves quickly following the arrest of only half of the group, those who were caught on camera, and moves to a conviction even faster.
Particularly comedic moments are Marc’s (Israel Broussard) fixation with a hot pink pair of Paris Hilton’s kitten heels, Rebecca’s longing for personal reassurance from victim, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicki’s inability to even contemplate her criminal behaviour.
I would recommend this film to those who enjoy a satirical comedy such as He’s Just Not That Into You and, one of my personal favourites, Jawbreakers. The film’s brutal honesty and intense performances create a film that targets adults and teenagers alike.
The Bling Ring starts screening at Luna Leederville on August 8 2013.