From People Magazine to E! News we as a culture are constantly inundated with the lives of our celebrities. It’s almost frightening to what degree we essentially worship them. We want to know the names of their babies the minute they’re born, and we lust after everything these stars and starlets have ever touched, be it cloths, cars, or beverages. They’re lives seem so perfect and glamorous with their fast cars, designer clothes, and absurdly insane parties. I suppose in a world where Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have more twitter followers than President Obama it’s not surprising to read about a group of kids so desperate to live that lifestyle that they’d invade the houses of the very celebrities they fetishize.
The Bling Ring in many ways works as a glimpse into the minds of these celebrity obsessed youths. They’ve been raised on TMZ and Perez Hilton, and they want nothing more than to be another part of the stories they obsess over. Sophia Coppola is essentially showing us the logical extreme of this troubling fascination. Now, most times a filmmaker tries to do something like this it can seem shallow or condescending, but here it gains a real power as you realize everything in this film actually occurred. These people exist and they represent something really quite endemic in our culture.
In all honestly the greatest achievement here is the deft way in which Coppola handles her characters. She was able to both satirize them and their really quite frightening disregard of common moral guidelines and delve deeply into her subjects. Bling Ring laughs at these people but never thinks of them as jokes. There’s a real effort made here to make them more than just caricatures of gossip obsessed teens. A good point of comparison would be Harmony Korin’s film from earlier this year, Spring Breakers. While that film aimed for a very cold and disaffected atmosphere with its quite two dimensional characters, The Bling Ring went for something quite different and actually flesh out it’s characters.
It seems a bit redundant at this point to talk about how freaking gorgeous a Sophia Coppola film is, but here I am doing it anyways. I mean, it’s really sublime. The work the cinematographer, Harris Savides, and Coppola put into this film really shows. Through their brilliant direction they were able to capture the shallow horror of the celebrity obsessed lifestyle these characters live in, and create something quite amazing to behold.
In many ways these elements all meld into something of a horror story. It shows the terror of celebrity’s magnetizing allure. The stars that we see on the silver screen or hear in our headphones are the beautiful and rich people through which we compare ourselves. They seem so perfect, having so much fun without a care in the world. Why aren’t we like that? We’re stuck here in our normal lives while they’re living life at it’s most glamorous: the designer clothes, the parties in Vegas, and the famous friends. This dream can act as something like a siren’s call on us, whispering in our ear and driving us to do some really quite stupid and immoral things. It’s a fascinating thing to behold and luckily Coppola was there to show it to us in all it’s train wreak like glory.
Rating: 4 out of 5