Dir: Sofia Coppola, 2013
A group of spoiled, glamour-hungry teens decide to take advantage of the naivety of the socialite celebrities of the Hollywood Hills. Using gossip websites to track the stars’ schedules and Google Maps to pinpoint their addresses, the “Bling Ring” enter through unlocked doors and repeatedly raid the wardrobes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and many others.
Sofia Coppola clearly has some form of obsession with the vacuous nature of celebrity lifestyle. Maybe it’s due to her upbringing with her father dragging the family all over the world, I’m not really sure and I don’t really care. But as evident through her style, it seems as though the language barriers and the razzle-dazzle and the long stays at the Chateau Marmont have left such an impression on Coppola that she just can’t imagine anything else. So I’m sorry to say that a filmmaker without imagination has no place making films.
The Bling Ring constitutes teen fashionistas going to celebrity homes, wowing over their swag and then wearing said swag to their favourite nightclub. Wash until glistening, rinse and repeat for roughly an hour. The problem with The Bling Ring is it is a news story, nay, a Vanity Fair article that was inadequately transformed into a Comic Sans screenplay. David Fincher’s The Social Network took the idea of online communication, showed its development and established its importance on a global scale. The Bling Ring attempts to make the same form of commentary through characters as transparent and devoid of connection as the film’s Los Angeles setting. There is no empathy for the main characters nor is there empathy for the victims.
It’s entirely possible or even probable that the blank, conventional format of The Bling Ring is an intentional directorial approach from Coppola. That the dialogue that consists primarily of “Shut up”, “Wow” and “Let’s get the f*** out of here” is as natural to the characters as it feels unnatural to us. That despite the good performance from Emma Watson, hers and the other characters are meant to tread on our nerves swiftly and brutally. Unfortunately, all of the above combined with the thirty minutes of material stretched to a malnourished ninety don’t make for an entertaining experience, proving Coppola to be the arthouse equivalent of Michael Bay.
Sofia Coppola is in a state of mind-numbing limbo, where she regurgitates vessel after vessel of replicated superficiality that is as shallow as a puddle and has the same level of captivation. The Bling Ring is no different, portraying hollow, emotionless characters in a hollow, emotionless world that provides momentary captivation due to its real-life resonance but founders in the hands of a one-trick pony director.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆