Sunday, June 23, 2013
The Bling Ring
Based on the Vanity Fair article The Suspects Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sale, The Bling Ring is about the true story of a group of young teenagers from Los Angeles whose obsessions with celebrity culture has them robbing the homes of various celebrities that include Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, and many others. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, the film is look into the world of celebrity culture from the perspective of young teens eager to part of that world where their crimes eventually go out of control as they become disconnected with reality. Starring Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Claire Julien, Gavin Rossdale, Stacy Edwards, and Leslie Mann. The Bling Ring is a fabulous yet entrancing film from Sofia Coppola.
The film is a fictional account to the real-life Bling Ring robberies where a group of teenagers robbed the homes of celebrities when those celebs aren’t at the house. For these five kids, their fascination with celebrity culture and the fact that it was easy to steal from their idols gives them the chance to feel like they’re part of that world of excess. Eventually, things do get out of control where paranoia and mistrust starts to come in where they’re eventually caught and face a world of trouble. It all plays to the fact that these kids want to be in that world of celebrity and wear the finest fashion designer clothes and be the envy of their peers. Yet, they become disconnected with the reality of their crimes as once they face the consequences. There are those who are more concerned with the fact that they’re about to become infamous while wondering about the people they stole from as well as their thoughts on the thefts.
Sofia Coppola’s screenplay is mostly told in a straightforward narrative where it mesh genres from drama, comedy, and suspense yet it does play with some of its conventions as it features bits of voice-over narration and interviews with two of its characters in Marc (Israel Broussard) and Nicki (Emma Watson). The story is largely told from Marc’s perspective where he meets a girl named Rebecca (Katie Chang) as they become friends due to their love for celebrities and fashion as they decide to sneak into the home of Paris Hilton as there are some serious revelations about the world that celebrities live in as well as what goes on in Los Angeles where people don’t lock their cars and leave their belongings there. Once Rebecca’s friend Chloe (Claire Julien), Nicki, and Nicki’s adopted sister Sam (Taissa Farmiga) join in the thefts, things eventually get crazy and all five of these kids are having the time of their lives.
Coppola isn’t interested in judging these kids but is aware that what they’re doing is wrong. Especially as they live in a carefree environment where they go to house parties and clubs where there’s no adult supervision while driving cars and wearing the best clothes of the day. While it definitely will seem to be very alienating to those that don’t live in the suburban posh areas of Los Angeles. There is still something about these kids that are intriguing as they want to be part of something that can make them cool and have other kids be envious of them. At the same time, they want to be people like Paris Hilton, Audrina Partridge, Lindsay Lohan, and all of these celebrities as to live the carefree yet excessive life they have while wearing their clothes, sporting their jewels, and doing the kind of things as if they were them. It’s all part of living the fantasy that these kids want to do no matter how immoral it is. Notably as Nicki’s mother (Leslie Mann) is someone who is also fascinated by the world of celebrity but is clueless to what her daughter is doing.
Coppola’s script has a structure where the first half is about the joy of stealing and being part of that world of celebrity where these kids will post pictures of the stuff they stole on Facebook and party at clubs. The script’s second half is actually much darker once the reality of their crimes is getting the attention of the public and the need to steal more becomes more frightening as they become oblivious to the fact that they’re being filmed by security cameras. The third act isn’t just about the group of kids being caught but also the infamy they’ve gained where Nicki and Marc are interviewed as it shows a contrast of what these kids are feeling over the troubles they’ve caused.
Coppola’s direction is very stylized for the fact that she goes for something that is a mixture of home movies with something that is grand and cinematic. Particularly as Coppola opens the film with the gang stealing objects from the home of a celebrity and then cuts to Marc’s interview with a Vanity Fair reporter (Anne Fitzgerald). While a lot of the visual compositions are straightforward in terms of close-ups and wide shots, there is an energy to Coppola’s compositions that is still enthralling from the moments in the club where the kids see Paris Hilton and longtime Coppola cohort Kirsten Dunst. Even in the club scenes where these kids are dancing as if they’re part of the in-crowd though not fully part of that exclusive club.
There’s also some very exquisite moments in the film where Coppola showcases the thefts that these kids are doing that includes this amazing wide shot of one celebrity’s house where it moves very slow with its zoom lens to see these kids coming and coming out to steal stuff from that person’s house all in one take. It’s among these moments in the film that shows Coppola taking some risks in her direction including scenes where things do play into an element of darkness in the second half with security footage and TV clips to showcase the chaos of the Bling Ring thefts. Particularly as there’s that sense of ambiguity where Coppola does shoot the film in the actual home of Paris Hilton that is quite surreal in some ways to think that they’re actually in Paris Hilton’s home.
While it’s a film that has no sense of defining genre where Coppola can use comedy and drama for elements of the film. She also employs some suspense in the third act where there is that element of paranoia that occurs about the idea that these kids could be caught. Notably as there’s that feeling that these kids should stop but that doesn’t happen where there is that troubling aftermath about the crimes they face. Coppola could’ve ended the film with some exposition about what happens to them but she doesn’t do that by just revealing what needs to be shown and said. Yet, it is followed by the two different paths of two of the members of the gang that showcases an uneasy ending that plays to the what these kids want no matter how shallow or how unrealistic it is. Overall, Coppola creates a wild yet fascinating film about a group of kids’ desire to be part of the world of celebrity culture.
Cinematographers Harris Savides and Christopher Blauvet do amazing work with the film‘s very colorful yet evocative cinematography to play out some of the beauty of the locations in Los Angeles in day and night as well as the more use of stylish lights for the scenes at the houses and clubs at night. The photography include some truly gorgeous work that is typical of Savides in his final contribution to cinema as the film is dedicated to his memory as his work with Blauvet‘s contributions is a technical highlight of the film. Editor Sarah Flack does fantastic work with the editing to bring in a flair of style in the cutting from montages to some dazzling rhythmic cuts to play out the craziness of the thefts as well as using TV clips to establish the awareness of the thefts.
Production designer Anne Ross, with set decorator Sara Parks and art director Kevin Bird, does brilliant work with the set pieces from the look of the clubs and some of the homes of the celebrities to the design of the objects the kids steal. Costume designer Stacey Battat does wonderful work with the clothes the kids wear from sweats to designer clothing in their desire to be like their idols. Sound designer Richard Beggs and co-sound editor Michael Kirschberger do excellent work with the sound from the way sirens and helicopter sounds to create that air of suspense to the atmosphere of the film‘s party scenes.
The film’s music by Brian Reitzell and Daniel Lopatin is superb for its moody ambient score to play out some of the drama and suspense that occurs in the film. The film’s soundtrack that is supervised by Reitzell features an array of artists ranging from hip-hop and R&B to indie as it features pieces from Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Rick Ross with Lil’ Wayne, 2 Chainz, Phoenix, Sleigh Bells, and Can to play out the sense of excitement and terror in the film.
The casting by Nicole Daniels and Courtney Sheinin is spectacular as it features cameo appearances from Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst as well as small appearances from Stacy Edwards and Marc Coppola as Marc’s parents, Carlos Miranda as Chloe’s friend Rob, Gavin Rossdale as the club owner/black market dealer Ricky, Annie Fitzgerald as the Vanity Fair reporter, Georgia Brown as Nicki’s younger sister Emily who takes part in one of the thefts, and Leslie Mann as Nicki and Emily’s mom who is very funny for her fascination with The Secret and how she tries to raise her daughters and Sam by living in that world.
Claire Julien is terrific as Chloe as the girl who helps everyone out in the thefts while being the one to introduce the girls to Ricky so they can sell stuff to him and make a profit. Taissa Farmiga is wonderful as Sam as Nicki’s adopted sister who shares the gang’s fascination for clothes, shoes, and jewelry while being very comical in a scene involving a gun. Katie Chang is excellent as the gang’s ringleader Rebecca as she is the one who always leads in the thefts while becoming more obsessed with stealing more as she also brings some wit to her performance. Israel Broussard is superb as Marc as the lone boy in the group who finds the homes of the celebrities while becoming more troubled later on as things get out of control. Finally, there’s Emma Watson in a remarkable performance as Nicki where Watson brings this air of shallowness and grand delusion to a character who is full of herself and is not afraid to be dangerous while is yearning to be famous one way or another.
The Bling Ring is a phenomenal and entertaining film from Sofia Coppola. Thanks to a great ensemble cast along with a vibrant look courtesy of the late Harris Savides as well as a fun film soundtrack. The film is definitely Coppola’s most accessible film since The Virgin Suicides in terms of the way kids are portrayed. It’s also a film that plays into a wild world that has no rules despite the fact that these kids are committing terrible crimes with no sense of remorse or morality. In the end, The Bling Ring is a sensational film from Sofia Coppola.
Sofia Coppola Films: Lick the Star - The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation - Marie Antoinette - Somewhere - A Very Murray Christmas - The Beguiled - On the Rocks - Priscilla (2023 film)
Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides OST - The Virgin Suicides OST - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST) - (Priscilla OST)
Related: The Ads & Videos 1993-2008 - The Auteurs #1: Sofia Coppola - Favorite Films #1: Lost in Translation - Favorite Films #4: Somewhere
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