Sunday, 28 July 2013

Film Review: The Bling Ring

What's it about?
Based upon true events, as reported in Nancy Jo Sales's Vanity Fair article The Suspects Wore Louboutins, this is the story of a group of LA teenagers who robbed the homes of the rich and famous. This will not be a spoiler-free review!

Was it any good?
So I should confess up-front that I am a huge Sofia Coppola fan. Her style of soft, seductive aesthetics tinged with a quiet sadness isn't for everyone. And indeed her films have sometimes been described as tales of bored rich white people. I still love them. But even if her films aren't normally your cup of tea, I would argue that in this case the whole poor-little-rich-kid thing works incredibly well with the story. All of these characters have grown up in a celebrity-obsessed culture, believing that you're not anyone if you don't have the latest designer purse and a picture of you with it on Twitter. Aside from the heady indulgence of the imagery - which includes montage scenes of shopping, clubbing, taking drugs, listening to R&B, getting dressed and taking things from Paris Hilton's wardrobe - this is also a social commentary on our culture.

In terms of performances, I feel like I should point out that Emma Watson's character Nikki isn't the protagonist here. That's the impression that the media seems to give (for obvious reasons, since everyone knows who Emma Watson is), but in reality I think she acts more as the comic relief than anything. The main group of five young actors all work well together, but for me the standout performances come from Katie Chang and Israel Broussard. Their relationship was, I felt, the most interesting, and their shared desire to be one of the beautiful people was one of the most relatable aspects of the film. One of my favourite scenes is a moment when Katie Chang's character Rebecca pauses in front of the mirror in Lindsay Lohan's house to put on perfume. The low lighting and slow, quiet nature of this scene had an intensely religious feel for me, which I think highlights the extent to which these teens worship the rich and famous.

Overall, if you want indulgence and acquisition which borders on the hedonistic, with a twist of sadness and a moral comeuppance, then this is for you. in my opinion it's one of the best films to show our generation at its extreme vanity while still maintaining a level of sympathy for those involved.

But what about the clothes?
To be honest, there are so many clothes in the whole thing that it's difficult to pick out specific ones to talk about! The costume designer was Stacey Battat, who did Coppola's other LA-based flick Somewhere. But I think it's almost less about what their clothes look like and more about the brands. All the characters are well aware of what McQueen or a Birkin looks like and how much it's worth, which is why they covet them so much.

A couple of my favourite outfits included this gorgeous white shirt dress worn by Rebecca in a morning scene, so the sunlight makes her look positively glowing. She also looks ironically innocent for someone who has spent the night before breaking and entering. I also like the pink heels which Marc takes from Paris Hilton's house. Marc's real-life counterpart, Nick Prugo, says that this never actually happened but that he didn't really mind it. In terms of the movie as independent of reality, it adds an extra insight into Marc's character (who it's implied is gay or questioning in the film, though I can't find any info as to whether that's true of Nick).

Probably the best thing about the costumes is that they still look fairly current now, but in a few years they'll probably look really dated, and that's a good thing because it grounds this movie in the here and now - it's a fable of the Millenial generation.


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