t h e b l i n g r i n g
5th July 2013
Israel Broussard, Paris
17th June 2013
Colton said 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. If this is indeed true then the celebraties of varying degrees whose homes were infiltrated should be hugely flattered; particularly one Paris Hilton who is gloriously sent up in Sofia Coppola's latest celebration of youth, wealth and celebrity The Bling Ring.
Opening with the banging sound of the Sleigh Bells, Coppola throws us headfirst into the debauched world of the Californian teenager. Mark (Israel Brousson) is the new kid at school and, whilst It's no 90210, the usual teen pressures are there and, well, money is power y'all. Luckily (or unluckily) on day one Mark is befriended by sultry brunette Rebecca (Katie Chang) and is propelled into a ready made world of parties, hot girls and riding in cars booming out loud hip hop. Awesome. Although these kids are all some degree of the American middle class (Mark's dad is a film distributor, Rebecca's mother runs a popular schooling programme) this simply isn't enough. They want more. Rebecca in particular needs more. MORE. So, what starts with checking if car doors are open, stealing a Birkin from a friend's house, escalates; becomes bolder and bolder until the events are amongst the most notorious and audacious robberies in recorded in the spoilt celebrity circles.
It is impossible not to want to talk about The Bling Ring after watching. It will cause many a heated argument I am sure. For example as I emerged from my screening I overheard three women say they hated it because it had no story. I thought this was missing the point somewhat. The story is indeed wafer thin but these were crimes of the most shallow of levels. This was no Ocean's Eleven style heist. The gang robbed celebrities whose shoes and bags they wanted. So, yes, the story is fragile and perhaps we don't engage fully with any one character but this serves the subject matter, the desires of the gang were shallow.
Coppola is playing with us in The Bling Ring. Interspersed with the linear story are interviews based on the Vanity Fair article Nancy Jo Sales wrote, 'The Suspects Wore Louboutin's'. Emma Watson's character Nikki even talks directly to the camera at one point. The sound is also used to disconcerting effect. Distorted, muted or rushing past our ears. More than once I was reminded of Gus Van Sant's Elephant. It all adds to the feeling of disconnection which is, of course, a favourite theme of Coppola's, add to this a bass heavy, hip hop loaded soundtrack and it all adds up to quite a trip where the real and the fake blend as one. YOU make up YOUR mind Copolla is saying. Just why not have fun whilst doing it?
So yes, 'the ring' are presented as shallow but Copolla also celebrates their youth as only she can do. She really does do good female youth and get away with it not feeling exploitative. It just feels appreciative. Sensitive. Close ups of young beautiful skin dancing in nightclubs. Who cares where they got the money from? I don't. These are exciting, intoxicating images. I wanna be in that club drinking a Grey Goose gimlet. Who wouldn't? They committed a crime but every day, every minute, women are forced into looking at images of rich, beautiful and skinny unattainable women to aspire to. To be role models. Celebrities who have done very little but have everything. It's a fucked up world ladies and gents so do we blame a gang of kids or do we laugh at how stupid Paris Hilton is for leaving her key under the mat. Or at the fact she has so much stuff she didn't even know she'd been burgled? Or do we blame society? The altar of celebrity and fast wealth is worshipped by many so it's no surprise these teenagers thought it was fine to just take what they wanted. They want to be these women. Want to look like them. Have to look like them. To be them. Rebecca was obsessed with Lindsey Lohan and Lohan, the celebrity car crash, was the ultimate prize for her. Oh and we must commend Paris for letting herself be sent up like this. She's gone up in our estimation - although in fairness she couldn't really go down.
Much has been made that Emma Watson is in this movie but she doesn't really feature that much in the first half. It's all about Mark and Rebecca and Israel and Katie both shine in these roles. I liked Emma Watson as Nikki she plays the role well and you believe her as a spoilt valley girl, her accent is spot on and she looks great. The whole 'ring' are excellent and equally worth commending. We were fans of Taissa Farmiga from An American Horror Story and she has continued the good work here as Nikki's adopted sister. Leslie Mann is great as the put upon hippy mom trying to make her girls see more goodness in women such as Angelina Jolie other than her man and her 'hot bod'. Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst both cameo and its really only the casting of Gavin Rossdale that doesn't quite add up. We love you Gavin. As a musician.
Like a mesmerising pop song The Bling Ring hooks you instantly and although a disposable story, Copolla's beautiful portrayal of youth will leave you humming its tune for some time afterwards.
Oh and P.S if anyone has got a key to Paris, count me in dude. I want to see that shoe cupboard...
Check out The Bling Ring trailer here.