The Bling Ring is Sofia Coppola’s crackpot look at consumerism and fame obsession in our culture, a slyly intelligent and piercing study. Centering on a group of spoiled, troubled young adults who decide to rob celebrities while they are on vacation, the film explores the rationale of wanting to do such low, pointless things. In essence, these kids are looking for fun when they are not out at the club drinking and smoking weed; maybe throw a little coke in there too, for good measure. That fun derives from obtaining goods that celebrities have, and these youngsters find bliss in achieving a certain level of fame that they’ll ultimately never reach themselves.
That’s the most fascinating element (of which there are many) in Coppola’s film: the idea of fame and celebrity status appeals to them so much without any true understanding of what it takes to make it in the world. They idolize people like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, looking at them as if they are icons for all the wrong reasons; they’re too busy obsessing over their material goods (like Paris Hilton’s closet full of shoes or Lindsay Lohan’s dress she wore to a premiere) to realize that they are inconsequential in every way, shape, and form. Therein rises another question, one of quite poetic justice: is celebrity status earned? After all, these girls are hoping to become celebrities, but for what exactly?
Materialism and fame were already analyzed this year in Spring Breakers (a good film, as well), from the same up-and-coming studio, A24 (who has The Spectacular Now, a great film, opening later this year). Yet what I admire so much about The Bling Ring is its use of characters that are never given any shred of remorse but face the consequences of their actions. They are arrested, put on trial, and punished. Does it change them, though? While that’s briefly analyzed, it only heightens the film’s effect, which is demonstrated so well through the continuous looks at their robberies. It’s an obsessive shooting style, mirroring these characters as they seemingly don’t change through their rise and fall. It’s an impressive, smart film.
Grade: ★★★★ (out of 5)