On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

The Bling Ring

2013/ USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda

It’s safe to say that the 21st Century has brought with an unhealthy public obsession with the world and lives of the rich and famous. These days all you need to become famous are good family connections or a series of public breakdowns to garner the kind riches that can only ever be dreamed of. Celebrity culture actually revolves around personalities who are actually rather untalented altogether; your Hiltons & Lohans for example. What The Bling Ring does is look introspectively at this obsession that society has with said tabloid no- marks and through the re-telling of real events shows us what happens when mere mortals such as ourselves try to reach for the cheaply garnered stars.

The plot focuses on Marc (Broussard) who after starting a new school quickly becomes embroiled in a gang of girls led by the arrogant Rebecca (Chang). This gang of girls are much like any other group of spoiled LA teenagers, they dream of careers as actors and fashion icons, they are obsessed with the label culture of the day seeking out designer clothes and accessories at all costs. However, this group which is also made up of sisters Nikki (Watson) and Sam (Farmiga) and renegade Chloe (Julien) begin to push the boundaries of their fame seeking lifestyles when they break into Paris Hilton‘s mansion and rob her. It doesn’t stop there either, led by Rebecca and aided in their stalking by the loner Marc who only wants to fit in, the gang increase the rate at which they rob Hilton whilst also tracking down other celebrity houses in which to raid. Somewhat naively they begin to believe they are untouchable and the arm of the law suddenly drops on them and drops on them hard.

Coppola directs this rather well and to say it is exquisitely shot is an understatement. I worried that a film focusing on the multiple robberies of celebrity mansions would become rather dull and repetitive. Yet, Coppola makes and conscious effort to not repeat the way in which we view each break- in and it’s compelling to see her do so. Several other key scenes point to the work of a very talented film- maker and helps The Bling Ring from being a dull plodding through of the plot. Sofia if you didn’t know is the daughter of the infamous Francis Ford Coppola and it seems with great visual story telling, in this family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Emma Watson was put forward as the film’s lead where in fact she actually plays quite a minor role in proceedings until the film’s final third. This does not detract from her performance overall, she gets to deliver some of the film’s stand out pieces of dialogue such as “I might want to run the country one day for all I know” which delivered in her brat like LA tones only provokes a reaction of hilarity. Her character Nikki is brash and for the vast part entirely unaware of the real consequences of life. The other two leads Chang and Broussard play their roles with a hint more subtlety, Broussard in particular tells us more with a look or movement than he does with a line of dialogue.

Overall Watson’s character ark becomes the driving force of the movie. Once the gang are arrested it is Nikki that rises to the levels of stardom the rest all dream of. Where she follows the others for most of the running time she takes center stage in the closing scenes. Rebecca set them on the path to celebrity teen screw ups but Nikki comes out the other side seemingly better off with her public profile raised and seemingly unfazed by her stretch in prison.

There is something not quite right with the film though. It has it’s funny moments, which like most films nowadays are in the trailer. But the character development outside the three leads is poor. Nikki’s sister Sam in once scene taunts the rest of the gang menacingly with a gun she steals from Megan Fox‘s house. She then takes it to her boyfriends and holds him at gun point… it stops the movie dead as you think that this part of her character is going to re-occur but it doesn’t. Chloe works as padding for the group merely standing in the back of scenes and saying things like “hey slut” and “whats up bitch”. I think really it is down to the story itself, you know the group will get caught and so there is no real suspense and no matter how true it really is you can’t believe that self obsessed millionaires would leave their homes unlocked… I guess they really are that stupid.

It’s a movie based around a sincerely ironic principle. A group of five teenagers set out to steal from their idols and end up on the same level of fame as the people who they originally stole from. As Marc says “it’s America’s obsession with this Bonnie & Clyde kinda thing”. Paris Hilton actually offered up her home for the filming and makes a real cameo appearance early on… did she really need to be in it? At the end of the day the real Bling Ring (yes this actually happened) have gotten what they wanted. Coppola shows us just how corrupt fame is these days quite well with her critical cinematic eye but by doing so has immortalised the actions of several stupid people in a work of art, thus solidifying the status they originally set out to reach.

You decide who the winner is here because I couldn’t…


-Josh Senior


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