19 sept. 2013

My Review: The Bling Ring (7/10)

"I think we just wanted to be part of the lifestyle. The lifestyle that everybody kinda wants."

Sofia Coppola is a talented writer and director, and despite not being able to equal her masterpiece, Lost in Translation, she still continues to surprise me with films like this. Her approach is different from most other directors, she isn't interested in trying to delve into the psyche of these characters and explain why they act a certain way, she kind of takes a distant approach and lets their actions speak for them. The Bling Ring is Sofia Coppola's way of putting a mirror in front of today's youth and letting them see how empty and shallow they've become. There is no denying that our young generation is obsessed with fame, celebrities, and social media. We see it every day in television through so many reality shows, and in The Bling Ring Sofia Coppola gets this point across from the very opening scenes where we see the main characters speak obsessively over fashion and celebrities while at the same time taking pictures of each other at a party and simply posing. That moment where you arrive at a party and everyone is sitting down in a same table with their eyes glued to their cellphones. Those are the sort of moments that Coppola captures from a distance in this film and she never tries to judge or explain their behavior. This detachment is what generally works in Coppola's work and I really was drawn into this world. As opposed to Lost in Translation and Somewhere, this film actually has a lot more going for it plot wise, despite not being as good as Lost in Translation. I really liked the dark comedy in this film and the performances from relatively unknown actors were also great. Emma Watson plays a very different role from what we've seen her in the past and she delivers despite not being the lead actress here. The Bling Ring isn't a perfect movie, but it is a detached observation of today's youth culture.

The Bling Ring was adapted by Sofia Coppola from Nancy Jo Sales's Vanity Fair article "The Suspect Wore Louboutins" about the real life crimes committed by a group of teenagers in 2008. This group, which the media called The Bling Ring, stole more than 3 million dollars worth of clothing and jewelry from celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, among others. They checked the whereabouts of the celebrities on the internet and then looked up their home address and simply entered their homes. Marc (Israel Broussard) has just moved to California and on the first day of High School he quickly befriends Rebecca (Katie Chang) who invites him to hang out with her and Chloe (Claire Julien) at the beach. They click right away because they both seem to share an obsession for fashion and after hanging out Rebecca asks him if he knows anyone who's family is away. Marc mentions one and Rebecca convinces him to break into their home and take a few things. This is just the beginning of their adventures as the two realize they can do the same with celebrities' houses. Rebecca's friends Nicki (Emma Watson) and Sam (Taissa Farmiga, who happens to be Vera Farmiga's youngest sister) also join them on some of the robberies. The members of the Bling Ring begin enjoying their lives of luxury and feeling like celebrities, but their excesses catch up with them and soon will run into trouble with the law.

If this weren't a film based on true events I would say it was ridiculous that someone would've come up with a plot like this since I wouldn't expect these celebrities to have such bad security systems in their homes, but this really happened although I'm betting things have changed now. Emma Watson's character is so dislikable but she manages to give a great performance nonetheless. Her character depicts everything that is wrong with today's youth. The final scene where she is being interviewed along with her mother (played by Leslie Mann) is just hilarious. She simply shines in every scene she's in here. Broussard and Chang also have great chemistry together and carry the movie despite being unknown actors. I know that a lot of people found this film shallow and pointless but I think that was exactly the point that Coppola was trying to get across: how shallow these people really are. This is a very fun film although probably a forgettable one as well considering the main themes of the movie. The critique of American culture is right on the mark here and perhaps that is why the film might leave you with a sense of emptiness as well, but that was exactly the reaction that Coppola was looking for.

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