The Bling Ring Film Review
Between 2008 and 2009 a group of Los Angeles teenagers went “shopping” in the homes of celebrities including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Audrina Patridge. The group was dubbed the “Bling Ring,” but their arrests gave them exactly what they wanted: a moment in the spotlight. Based on the events of the real “Bling Ring” and the transcripts of their interviews with Nancy Jo Sales (writer of the acclaimed Vanity Fair piece about the “Bling Ring” called “The Suspects Wore Louboutains”) and starring Emma Watson alongside a group of film newcomers (like Katie Chang and Israel Broussard) Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring is a sobering look at our fame obsessed culture.
The interview transcripts that Coppola acquired from Sales prove to be an important part of the film. The film is framed by the interviews and reflections of the “Bling Ring” members, most notably Nick Prugo (or Marc as he is called in the film, portrayed by Israel Broussard) and Alexis Neirs (Nicki in the film, portrayed by Emma Watson). The dialogue in the film is ridiculous at times, but what is really mind blowing is that Coppola took those lines straight from the transcripts of the Sales interviews.
“Valley Girls” have been portrayed in films over the years as caricatures of human beings, with no depth and with nothing really likable about them, but in The Bling Ring you find yourself really liking some of these characters and even feeling bad for them, especially Marc played by Broussard. The film is not just a fun movie about teenage burglars, it is also about friendship. A main focus of the film is the friendship between Marc and Rebecca (the “Bling Ring’s mastermind played by Katie Chang), Marc is the classic awkward new kid in school who gets swept up in Rebecca’s world after they find that they share the same interest in fashion and celebrities. Marc becomes infatuated with Rebecca and therefore will do anything she wants. Newcomer Katie Changs performance as Rebecca is brilliant, you despise her but also cannot help but love her.
But what everyone should be (and will be) talking about is Emma Watson as Nicki. The character of Nicki is based off of Alexis Neirs, star of the E! reality show Pretty Wild and a pole dancing instructor. The character of Nicki is certainly the most ridiculous in the film, providing the biggest laughs. Watson’s role of Nicki in this film certainly distances herself from Hermionie Granger.
Another great performance in the film comes from Leslie Mann who plays Nicki’s mother, a former Playboy playmate who home schools her daughters and raises them with a spirituality based off of “The Secret”. One of the funniest scenes in the film (which was taken straight from the reality show Pretty Wild) is when Laurie (played by Mann) sits down Nicki and her sister for their “lesson” which that day focused on vision boards. Laurie shows the girls a vision board she made about Angelina Jolie and asks the girls what qualities they most admire about Jolie to which they reply “her husband” and “her body”.
The subject of fame and extravagance is something that Sofia Coppola has tackled before (most notably in Marie Antoinette) But The Bling Ring has a completely different impact than the fancy pop music driven Marie Antoinette. Even though it has been four years since the events of the “Bling Ring,” it has remained in people’s minds and in the media.
Celebrity and a materialistic lifestyles have grown even stronger. In this film Coppola both mocks the celebrity and fame obsessed culture, and celebrates it. You find yourself both wanting to go along for the ride with these kids, and despising everything they stand for simultaneously. Like it or not, no matter how much we try to fight against it, we all fundamentally want what the kids in the film want: a comfortably rich lifestyle where we can afford everything we could ever want or need, and “to do things people will notice”
Despite the fact that The Bling Ring at times seems like it is fully endorsing this vapid lifestyle, Coppola is pretty clear with her message. The most impactful scene in the film is one of the shortest. The “bling ring” girls are driving home from a party, drunk, throwing cash and chains around and singing M.I.A’s “Bad Girls” at the top of their lungs. Right after the line “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well” another car hits them. Coppola then cuts to the girls back at school, where Chloe (played by Claire Julien) is joking about her blood alcohol count and all of the girls appear to be more annoyed with their friend for almost getting them in trouble than they are jolted by the fact the night before they were hit head on by another car.
The Bling Ring is a must see. Sofia Coppola managed to make a film that was both enjoyable and thought provoking. It mocks modern American values without being too annoyingly snarky or intellectual about it. With The Bling Ring Coppola is playing a trick, she made a movie that is about everything todays youth wants. She made it irresistible, she packed it with great fashion and great music and cast Emma Watson, an actress everyone between the ages of 16-22 grew up with and loves. She made a movie thats lovable, hilarious and worth watching again and again, that also leaves you completely disgusted with the fame obsessed culture thats taken over America without even realizing it at first.