Sofia Coppola makes interesting choices with ‘The Bling Ring’
June 13, 2013
“The Bling Ring” very well may be the new classic in the genre of teenagers behaving badly. Reminiscent of the iconic teen film “Mean Girls” and the recent spectacle “Spring Breakers,” “The Bling Ring” falls right in between those two on the spectrum of funny to insane.
The new film tells the story of Marc (Israel Broussard), a new student at Indian Hills High School, a school for students who were kicked out of their regular schools. After befriending two girls, Rebecca (Katie Chang) and Chloe (Claire Jullen), he soon joins them on their favorite pastime — robbing people. What starts as car-jacking turns into home invasion when one of their schoolmates is out of town.
From the rush of their first successful house robbery, the teenagers then set their sights on celebrities — beginning with Paris Hilton, under the assumption that a person who would allow a sex tape to leak would be dumb enough to leave the key under the doormat.
Sofia Coppola is most successful in setting a solid tone. Her film makes it fun to live vicariously through the teens while they raid all the celebrities’ homes. The film captures the extreme voyeurism our society has with celebrities — the house raids are reminiscent of watching an episode of “MTV Cribs” — and makes you wish you were there.
However, although the film is incredibly entertaining, especially for those who flip through a tabloid from time to time, Coppola makes some questionable directorial choices. The main issue with ”The Bling Ring” its lackadaisical approach to historical accuracy.
The film remains faithful to the timeline of the actual events, but the archival footage Coppola uses is just a mashup of news stories and videos of the celebrities without any particular chronological order. It’s also strange that Coppola chose music that was released after the actual debacle — this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if not for the fact that the characters are seen singing along.
Coppola also makes some frustrating decisions with character and casting. She changes all the students’ names in the movie, likely to protect their identities, but those who know the true story of the Bling Ring will notice a character equivalent of central player Diana Tamayo to be missing. Why this character is missing is unknown, when in real life she was one of the heads of the group, and also an alleged illegal immigrant that could have made for a very captivating conflict for a character.
And, as much as everyone loves Emma Watson — who later joins the group as Nicki — and as much as she sells her character, she is forced to fry her voice with almost every word she says, as if she is playing a caricature of a Valley girl.
Interestingly enough, Watson and Taissa Farmiga — whose characters are based on real-life sisters Alexis Neiers and Tess Taylor, respectively — actually look much more like the other girl, and perhaps should have been casted as such.
Much like “Mean Girls” and the other great teen films of our era, “The Bling Ring” has the “replay” factor, both because and despite of Emma Watson. Those who want more insight on the story should read the article that the film is based on.
The directions that Sofia Coppola take her film are at times confusing and at other times great, but seeing this film may just inspire you to start robbing homes yourself.
Marcus Jones is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.