More so in the digital age than ever before, there’s a very thin line between fame and infamy. It’s on this line that Sofia Coppola sets The Bling Ring, her much anticipated follow-up to the Venice Film Festival winning Somewhere starring Harry Potter alumnus Emma Watson alongside Katie Chang, Israel Brossard and Taissa Farmiga.
It tells the true story of a group of TMZ and gossip magazine obsessed Hollywood youngsters who break into the homes of celebrities. In something of an effort to force their way into this world of glamour, high fashion and expensive living, they find out which superstars will be out of town and steal their valuables while they are away. However, as one might expect, their exploits soon capture the attention of the Hollywood media and, for at least a short period of time, this collective of fresh-faced wannabes become nearly as famous as those they rob.
Sofia Coppola, in her trademark minimalist style, spends much of The Bling Ring focusing on the ‘what’ of their exploits. In great detail, she presents to us their break-ins as the so-called Bling Ring lay their hands on Orlando Bloom’s money, Paris Hilton’s jewellery, Megan Fox’s pistol and so forth.
What The Bling Ring lacks, however, is any real probe into the ‘why’. There’s a darkly comic moment towards the film’s finale in which Nicki (a fantastic Emma Watson) gives an interview to the Vanity Fair journalist upon whose article The Bling Ring is based. In the scene, she and her mother (an equally fantastic Leslie Mann) bicker over who gets to speak with Nicki delivering the hilariously stroppy line “Mom! This is my interview!” It’s in moments like this that The Bling Ring really delivers on its promise, turning a mirror on the warped obsession we have with celebrity and fame.
Sadly, however, moments like this come few and far between. They’re lost underneath the repetitive procession of burglary scenes that detach the film from the entire point Coppola is trying to make. The Bling Ring is mildly entertaining thanks to the great performances, killer soundtrack and dashes of humor, but it’s ultimately about as shallow and superficial as the characters it portrays.
The Bling Ring shows at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 22nd and 23rd