EIFF The Bling Ring

Inspired by fairly recent events, director Sofia Coppola tells a cautionary tale, very relevant for today’s media and celebrity obsessed youth. The plot centres on 5 teenage Los Angeles High School students (four girls and one guy), who decide to take their fan worship of the rich and famous just that one step closer, by robbing their ostentatious mansions high in the LA hills. The fact that all the youthful aspiring burglars come from reasonably affluent and comfortable homes makes their robberies less about accumulating wealth, than by gaining temporary access to a secret world they crave. This is a world populated by the likes of fashion models, movie stars and pop idols, and one that for a very brief moment they infringe upon to indulge in their own peculiar personal fantasies.

Sofia Coppola directs with a singular lack of depth or empathy for any of the leading characters. And throughout the film’s reasonably brief running time, you never really gain much insight or revelation into what makes these superficial teenagers tick (and superficial they are with a capital S). They make their periodic break-ins into their idols’ palatial homes to gaze with wonder and curiosity at rows and rows of designer shoes, clothes, handbags, perfume etc. And then they swiftly move with exulted triumph towards their local club (cue lots of flashing lights, loud music, drinking, dancing and casual drug taking) knowing that they have furtively stepped into a world they have only glimpsed from the likes of television and magazines.

The dialogue spouted by the teenagers as they bicker, party hard and share observations of their envy at the lifestyles of this form of heightened celebrity, include such pearls of wisdom as: “Cool”, “You are Hot!” “Your ass is amazing!” “Hi Bitch!” and best of all “Oh My God! Oh My God!” If I had a pound for every time that last expression is expressed on screen, it could very well fund my trip to next year’s Film Festival – at Cannes!

Apart from former Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, playing one of the gang, the reasonably unknown cast fill their parts with conviction, although I’m not entirely sure how difficult it is to superficially act superficial? Maybe it is quite a neat trick to convey realistically on screen? Who knows?

But I can see exactly what type of audience the film is aiming for, with no doubt teenagers on this side of the Atlantic, readily identifying with the “Bling Ring’s” desire to touch – however transitory – a world of easy fame and consumer excess.
How about a sequel “The Bling Ring 2” – this time set in Essex??

Lawrence Lettice