Last night, some friends and I headed to the NZ Film Festival showing of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. It was first shown at Cannes earlier this year, but now it’s hit the big screen in little old New Zealand.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this film, or its inspiration (a Vanity Fair article, The Suspect Wore Louboutins) or in fact the news headlines in 2009; The Bling Ring is a strange but true story of six American teens who, in a twisted take on celebrity worship, burgled various Hollywood stars.
I had some seriously high expectations for this flick, but I came away really confused. Did I love it or hate it? Quite frankly, almost 24 hours later, I’m still not sure. I found almost every actor in the burglar bunch incredibly wooden. But then I thought – maybe this was purposeful? Was it a comment on the fact that these kids (I don’t care that they were all in their late teens, they had the maturity of five year olds, so I am calling them kids) where so shallow? Sofia tickled with the idea of her audience sympathizing with the gang, but never followed through. She also touched at one point on the thought that her main character Marc (representing Nick Prugo) was in love, or at least infatuated, with the robbery ringleader Rebecca (or real life Rachel Lee), yet never brought it up again. It left me with so many questions unanswered that despite me thoroughly enjoying my 90 minutes enthralled in the lives of these messed up kids, I felt disappointed.
Emma Watson however, was brilliant. I think it’s a credit to her acting ability that I was not once transported to her Harry Potter days. Having said that, I thought, perhaps because she is the most well known cast member, or maybe because she did recreate the troubled Alexis so well, she got a lot of air time. Like a lot. When the accounts of the real life story don’t actually put Alexis in many of the robberies.
The kicker of this teen tale was the ironic way that becoming known as criminals enabled the group to become the very thing they most admired, celebrities. Sofia totally captured the over sharing, celebrity obsessed society that teenagers, hell even adults, are currently living in. She perfectly highlights the deep seeded need within these people to put themselves in this world of perceived glamour.
What was astounding to me was how much this strange little story captured me. I went home and watched every Youtube video on this gang of burglars, and read any article I could find. Honestly, I’m still going. Having said that. I’m not convinced it was Academy Award wining director, Sofia, who grabbed my interest. But more the true story itself.
At the end of the day this movie is that of almost every teen flick. The losers (aka the none famous) want to make it in with the cool crowd (aka celebrities) and find that they will do anything it takes to get them there. The difference? I’m not sure (despite a prison sentence) that any of the bling ring actually realised the extent of what they did, or what they were reduced to – and that’s the part that makes it such a depressingly dark true story.