3 juin 2013

They’re young, beautiful and privileged, with too much time on their hands. Sound like anyone you know? Sofia Coppola has made a career out of exploring the inner lives of poor-little-rich girls, whether Lost in Translation or Marie-Antoinette, and with her fifth feature, The Bling Ring, she returns to familiar territory. Based on true events, the film invites viewers along for the joy-ride as a gang of feckless Los Angeles teens of the Facebook generation use the Internet to track Hollywood stars’ whereabouts, breaking into their homes and making off with designer clothes, shoes and jewelry while they’re out of town. With ditsy stars like Paris Hilton leaving her keys under the doormat, the kids are soon robbing the rich and famous with gay abandon. A mindless round of clubs, drugs, and shopping ensues as the group sell the swag to fund the celebrity lifestyle to which they feel entitled – “the lifestyle everyone kind of wants”. It’s no surprise that the party has to end sometime and soon their carelessness leads to their downfall. Coppola has always done adolescent ennui well, and there is much in the portrayal of the celeb-obsessed youths that rings true, much as we may wish it didn’t. The so called Bling Ring’s exploits are well observed, and set to a fun contemporary hip hop beat, but her subjects here are the least interesting of her heroines to date.

I want to rob

Harry Potter’s Emma Watson relishes shedding her butter-wouldn’t-melt image and puts in an enjoyable performance as a pole-dancing bad girl – “I want to rob”, and newcomers Katie Chang and Israel Broussard are worth watching but the characters are too slight and superficial to engage the viewer. Some scenes are beautifully shot – notably the nighttime burglary carried out at a glass house nestled in the Hollywood hills, entirely viewed from the outside as the crickets hum, and a fabulous tableau of an LA family breakfast replete with lapdogs and Hispanic maid, as the police sirens grow nearer, to shatter the dream. The film is at its best in the few moments of real satire – Emma Watson’s oblivious self promotion and her new-age mother’s absurd home-schooling stand out – but with Paris Hilton herself (and her home) appearing in the movie and too many other real-life crossovers, Coppola is too close to the subject to take a moral stance. Ultimately the film provides no answers to the problem of contemporary trash culture, and you’re left with little more than a party soundtrack and some bling bling product placement.

On screen June, 12th

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