Director: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga
After viewing it, I can understand why The Bling Ring is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, just like Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Yes, this film is different from Korine’s film and a little more accessible (in terms of being understood by the general public), but they have that one thing in common that will be lost on some people. They both seek to make a bold statement about the culture among society’s youth; the artificiality of it. This isn’t really a crime drama as much as it is an examination of this “A-List” youth culture and the true absurdity of it.
Plot: After transferring schools, Marc (Broussard) instantly becomes friends with Rebecca (Chang). They get along really well and she ends up introducing him to several of her other friends, including Nicki (Watson) and Chloe (Julien). However, Rebecca has a thing for stealing from cars and empty houses, which makes Marc hesitant at first but her calming demeanor soothes his worries. Rebecca decides to step it up a bit after realizing they can easily look up celebrities’ addresses. Their first victim is Paris Hilton, who they burglarize several times and soon other celebrities are thrown into the mix.
What’s really interesting about this film is the fact that it’s basically about a group of teens who steal from celebrities, but at the same time, they still admire these celebrities so much. Their motive isn’t necessarily to get rich off of their stuff, but to be part of that lifestyle that is inherent in being a famous person. They have this sick admiration of the “glamorous” lifestyle. There is one scene where during the burglary of Lindsay Lohan’s home, we see Chang spray perfume on herself and just smile at herself in the mirror. It’s an unsettling scene, as Coppola decides to linger on Chan for what seems to be an absurdly long time, but it gets this subtle point across. That in that moment, Chang’s character was really happy about what she saw in the mirror.
The movie is full of scenes in which we see the group partying it up at hot clubs and really living that “celebrity” lifestyle that they wanted so much. They are constantly taking pictures of themselves at the clubs and wearing the things they stole, posting them on Facebook and such, and even telling people about their home robbery escapades. They aren’t very careful about getting caught and perhaps this is because they all feel a sort of detachment about the crimes they are committing. These celebrities aren’t “real people”, they are simply a symbol of everything they obsess over.
As far as stand outs go, Broussard, Watson, and Chang are all wonderful. Broussard plays this troubled, charming, yet vulnerable kid and it’s easy to see how he got sucked in to this by Chang’s character, who is confident and cold, but alluring. A voice over of Marc says “I loved her like a sister, which is what made this so hard.” Emma Watson steals every scene she is in though, both because she is obviously the most well known actress of the cast, but also because that is what her character demands of her, making Watson a very good choice. Her character practically screams for attention, but at the same time, her character doesn’t really have anything worth saying. She is almost a caricature of those girls who have their eyes glued to their phone screens and desire so much of the world without actually being connected to reality.
With most scenes taking place in either a club or during a robbery, there is a certain monotony to the movie. I feel like it’s meant to be like this though. To show that these kids’ desires and wants out of life aren’t anything special. They want to look good and party and talk about themselves. This a movie that doesn’t want you to delve too deep into it at all. In the end, these kids are all very one dimensional with one dimensional wants.
Conclusion: Though people may view this movie as “without feeling”, I think that is exactly what Coppola wanted to portray. She wanted to make some sort of statement on not just these specific kids, but the whole culture that surrounds them. That this generation obsessed with social media and being “famous” is a generation that itself lacks feeling. I think this movie has some really interesting things to say, but unfortunately these things will be misinterpreted by some movie goers. To me though, this was definitely worth the watch and I applaud Coppola for making such a unique statement.