Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Bling Ring, dir/wr. Sofia Coppola, based on "The Suspects Wore Louboutins" by Nancy Jo Sales, st. Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Georgia Rock, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann

It's hard to get a handle on The Bling Ring, Coppola's latest based on the delinquent gang that were responsible for a spate of celebrity-targeted burglaries in 2008. The film makes vague and unconvincing motions towards exploring the detrimental and unhealthy effect the pursuit of celebrity culture as a devotional pastime has on our youth, but the various home-invasion sequences that litter the movie offer little else other than the voyeuristic fetishising of rush-inducing kid-in-candystore petty thievery. The shy Marc Hall (Broussard) attends Indian Hill High School in CA and is almost immediately befriended by Rebecca Ahn (Chang), a fellow soul-mate fashionista. Their mutual obsession with various style-conscious socialites, models and actresses soon has the pair and their gang breaking into betreasured celebrity residences for a kind of Fun House-style mad dash, in which Prada handbags are filled with Brothers Grimm-ish jewels and spoils before they beat their hasty shadowy retreat against the twinkling LA skyline. Detractors of Coppola's style over substance modus operandi will feel smugly vindicated as The Bling Ring emerges as a series of vignettes that offer about as much narrative discourse as an episode of MTV Cribs, but the cast - including Watson as the air-headed butter-wouldn't-melt Nicki - give surprisingly persuasive portrayals of wayward teens celebrating superficiality as a viable and fulfilling lifestyle. But the film seems to champion the gang - little girls lost as they are - with the same limp indifference as it makes to condemn them, and ultimately, it's difficult to see what The Bling Ring is attempting to say. The subject matter is unquestionably compelling; Coppola's film, sadly, is not.