In today’s culture, fame is more important than success, luxury brands are the currency, consumerism is a lifestyle, and celebrities are the role models. This phenomenon not only applies to youth, in some countries the women who works as a normal office lady with minimum salaries believe that owning a Louis Vuitton are more important than having an apartment because it will give them a higher social stature. Media force fed you images that encourage you to buy that 6-inch stiletto heels you can’t even walk in or a bag that cost more than a Prius. Fabrication and cultivation of image become everything.
If you can’t be famous, be infamous.
Sofia Coppola’s 5th feature film, is a satire adaptation from a real life event. 5 youngsters burglarizing hollywood starlets houses for their luxury items, jewelries and cash before they got caught and . I guess shop-lifting lipstick does not cut it anymore these days. Based on a Vanity Fair article The Suspect Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales, come a black comedy that satirize the story of the infamous gang of teenage robber, who dubbed themselves as the Bling Ring.
Marc Hall (Israel Broussard) just arrived at his new school after being thrown out of his previous one. He’s quiet and socially challenged, easily fall into the wrong crowd for all the wrong reason. He befriend Rebecca Ahn (Katie Chang) who talked to him once and easily corrupted him, soon the two bonds over mischief, trespassing and robbing the house of his wealthy relative. The heist soon escalates to aim, no thanks to media lack of respect for privacy (and a help from google), for celebs empty houses as their rightful owner went out of town. Driven by motifs as shallow as “I want the stuff of a Victoria’s Secret model”. They invites their friend along for the ride Chloe Tayner (Claire Julien), Sam Moore (Taissa Farmiga), and Nicki Moore (Emma Watson) who candidly dead-panned, “I want to rob!”, she bemoaned. They can not help but to flaunt their spoils and regale their friends (who would listen) with the stories of their excursions, taking countless selfies to social media accounts, showing off a faux facade well-hidden under layers of stolen goods. But even all the good things must come to an end, right?
The character does not posses so much depth. Well these people define themselves by the labels anyways, both figuratively and quite literally. New comer Israel Broussard (reminds me a bit of Lerman for some reason) as the troubled Marc Hall is the closest thing to a protagonist of the film. His performance slightly more distinctive than the rest of the dim witted gang, as he struts in Paris Hilton’s heels with a subtle, non-stereotypical hints of his orientation. Emma Watson’s home-schooled, sociopathic portrayal of Nicki. Despite she occasionally slips out of her californian accent (that she picked up from watching the Kardashians and her character basis, Alexis Neiers on Pretty Wild), she gave an amusing caricature of a fame whore whose logic as faulted as her attention span. Her bit at the beginning and the ending was delicious, because we know we all need a president who’s priority is to see if Lohan can get to keep her extensions in jail while the others inmate have to sacrifice their artificial locks. A stood out yes, but please, don’t start generating Oscar buzz just out of that, now that’s even more hilarious than Nicki *cue eyeroll*.
An inspirational board: when Life, Nature, Love equals designer handbags, high end dresses, and $1200 shoes.
YOLO (You Only Live Once), one of the stupidest slogan to live by, came to my mind when i watch these adolescent teen tried to live in the now without regrets. Trying to capture and immortalize moments in banal action of countless selfies to be filed away in their social media timeline. As thinly veiled as the filtered objects of their obsession. Trying to construct feverish image driven by hedonistic desire. We never really figure out what reasons drove them out of their seemingly normal, loving family, with middle class economy backgrounds. For what? Adoration from others? The ability to gloat? (Ironically, it is those who admired them who send the tips to the police anyways).
The theme of hedonistic value and fame culture has been done in at least two other films this year. Bret Easton Ellis’ The Canyons was exponentially bad but offer a glaring portrait of a person obsession nonetheless. Korine’s Spring Breakers, took a bleaker, grittier, more unapologetic approach and successfully satirize the youth hedonistic culture. Much like the detached characters and thinly narratives in its plot, Bling Ring was almost to tame and too vanilla to be remembered about. In the end of the movie i found myself asking questions to myself. So what was the filmmaker intent in making this film? There were very little things i get out of this film at the end. To be honest maybe a docu-fiction would work better for the type of story they are trying to convey.
The Bling Ring was shown in the Un Certain Regard section of 2013 Cannes film festival this year. Praises were bestowed upon Watson, a lot of buzz was generated. For me, I’d be more excited to re-watch Korine’s Spring Breakers instead.
THE BLING RING (2013)
GENRE Drama, Crime
DIRECTOR Sofia Coppola | PRODUCER Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley | WRITER Sofia Coppola | MUSIC Brian Reitzell, Daniel Lopatin | CINEMATOGRAPHER Christopher Blauvelt, Harris Savides | EDITOR Sarah Flack | STUDIO American Zoetrope, NALA Films, Pathé, StudioCanal, TOBIS Film, Tohokushinsha Film | DISTRIBUTOR A24 | COUNTRY United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany | RATING R for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language including some brief sexual references | RUNNING TIME 90 minute | RELEASE May 15, 2013 (Cannes), June 14, 2013 (US) | BUDGET $8 million
STARRING Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Emma Watson, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann