The Selfie Generation

The Bling Ring

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Director: Sofia Coppola

Cast: Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Carlos Miranda, Georgia Rock, Taissa Farmiga, Gavin Rossdale

Italian American director Sofia Coppola’s latest film The Bling Ring explores the vacuous obsession with Hollywood celebrities by a group of Los Angeles teenagers whose desire for a trophy of their favourite star leads them to a string of audacious house burglaries of such celebrities as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Victoria Secret model Miranda Kerr and boyfriend actor Orlando Bloom along with Megan Fox and The Hills TV star Audrina Partridge.

The Bling Ring based on real events that occurred in Los Angeles from 2008 to 2009 follows the drug fuelled gang of privileged teens as they literally raid the glorious closets of these hugely affluent stars, stealing designer purses, jewellery, clothing and accessories worth millions of dollars. These audacious closet raids were documented in an article by Vanity Fair entitled The Suspects Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales.

This is the selfie generation who boast of their daring exploits by taking selfie pictures on their Smartphone’s with the stolen bling at swish Hollywood nightclubs frequented by the real stars including Kirsten Dunst and Paris Hilton. They take drugs, seem immune to any form of parental guidance and post their fabulous exploits on all social media, which in the digital age leads eventually to their own downfall. In their pursuit of following these celebrities, the Bling Ring spearheaded by the cross dressing Marc played by Israel Broussard and Rebecca played by Katie Chang along with Nicki Moore played by Harry Potter star Emma Watson. Leslie Mann also stars as The Secret inspired home schooling Hollywood mom.

Coppola encapsulates the vanity of their exploits in a perfect shot of the group posing at a nightclub, with fist full of dollars, drugs and champagne, showing a generation that is not only materialistic but completely out of touch with the intrinsic value of money.

Naturally the victimized celebrities including Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton press charges and the Bling Ring are all eventually caught by the LAPD, with the loot discovered in their possession and they too like Lindsay’s glamorous and numerous court appearances have their time in the spotlight where all the main culprits are convicted of residential house burglary.

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As in Coppola’s glorious examination of the excess of wealth in her Oscar winning film Marie Antoinette, as a director she holds a mirror to a celebrity obsessed society which seems destined to crumble, but never does. Even the prison sentences  in The Bling Ring make the juvenile offenders in to minor TMZ stars, showing that the pursuit of celebrity is relentless and is in itself a form of youth culture which will always thrive in an internet driven 21st century Hollywood, where every Award show and contemporary film star is besieged by eager paparazzi both publicly and online.

The Bling Ring is frothy, vacuous and fabulous and audiences shouldn’t expect some sort of moral justification but a nuanced commentary on a celebrity culture that perpetuates its own obsessive and voyeuristic existence. A world that Coppola as daughter of famous film director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now) must be so used to and has certainly influenced her impressive if slightly nonchalant recent films from Somewhere to The Bling Ring.

Naturally it helps that Sofia Coppola established her credibility early in Hollywood as a film director with the critically acclaimed film Lost in Translation. The Bling Ring does not match up to the initial high standard Coppola set for herself, but is equally relevant in 21st century media frenzied Hollywood where such stars as Lohan and Hilton have become famous for being famous. The Bling Ring is recommended viewing for fashionistas and those who appreciate gorgeous closet raids!

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