Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola directed four feature films before "The Bling Ring". "The Virgin Suicides" (1999) was promising; "Lost in  Translation" (2003) was very good; "Marie Antoinette" (2006) was pretty but boring and "Somewhere" (2010) was really, really boring. The graph of her career was not looking good but I am pleased to report that "The Bling Ring" is a decent film.

It's a very contemporary meditation on the intertwined subjects of the surveillance state and the cult of celebrity. It's a fiction based on a real crime spree where a group of bored, materialistic and celebrity obsessed Southern California teenagers used social media and celebrity gossip sites to find out when various celebrities were out of town so that they could burglarize their houses. They got away with it for almost a year and stole an estimated 3,000,000 dollars in luxury goods. Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton were among the victims and Hilton, in her weird disarming way, allowed the film crew to shoot a number of scenes in her house.

The film is darkly comic and also skillfully anxiety producing. It's not boring. When the Bling Ring kids do their break-ins, security camera footage of them is intercut with the regular footage and there is always the sound of helicopters in the distance. Since we know they were eventually caught we keep waiting for the moment.

The young actors are very good. Katie Chang, as Rebecca Anh, the leader of the gang, brings a casual sociopathic edge to her role and Emma Watson leaves Harry Potter far behind with her portrayal of Nikki Moore, the most self-deluded, narcissistic and and unintentionally amusing of the bunch.

This is not a great film but it's worth seeing. I'm once again interested in what Sofia Coppola's next project will be.

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