While the grating disconnect has existed in so many movies of upper class elite stars playing – or rather poorly impersonating the poor – the opposite may not be exactly true. Nor shed any more of a revealing light regarding the way things are.
That is, when the Hollywood aristocracy holds up a mirror to reflect their own world instead. And which is perhaps no more lacking in self-awareness than the case of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. So can firsthand familiarity with one’s subject end up as misguided as a distant class perspective? More bling than ringing true to its topic at hand, this gaudy outing literally and figuratively glosses over its innately grim proceedings. And essentially where Hollywood would seem to be turning the camera on itself, less to probe than prance and parade in front of it.
Based on notorious events that played out in the real world in Los Angeles in 2008, (and later covered in a Nancy Jo Sales Vanity Fair article), The Bling Ring dramatically reenacts the brash heists of a gang of home invasion middle class teens, who robbed nearly three million dollars of designer duds and jewelry for almost a year before being caught. Their triumphant exploits of criminally compulsive consumerism included the simultaneous weirdly worshipped targets Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and Audrina Patridge.
Among the obnoxiously self-indulgent Me Girls turning up as eagerly aspiring pathological pubescent perps in the movie, is just a single recognizable star, Emma Watson. Well, then again there’s Paris Hilton. Pretty much twisting the proceedings here into a kind of warped reality show for a bit, as she struts victimhood with so-what attitude on screen, while even lending out the grotesquely lavish inner sanctum of her home for a robbery replay.
The fact that Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette, Lost In Translation) is herself a pampered Hollywood princess – and has even signed a pricey item for Louis Vuitton’s collection, whose fleeced product placements figure all over this movie along with endless others – may scream conflict of interest from the starting gate. But there’s much more than meets the eye here, raising red flags among all the drowning in designer wear illegal dressup orgies. Let’s just call it negative role modeling, so to speak.
In other words, Coppola is socio-economically immersed to such an extent in her subject matter at hand, that it’s repeatedly difficult to tell what she’s observing as opposed to embracing. A further clue to this suspect cluelessness, is the casting of glamorous babes as the multiple crime scene cuties. One need only glance at the real life Bling Ring felon mug shots (http://www.flixist.com/ul/215059-trailer-the-bling-ring-teaser-/bling-ring-620x.jpg) to conjure conclusively that Coppola may have been more fascinated and mesmerized herself than anything else, by the clarion call capers to euphemistically ‘go shopping’ on these indictable sprees, than delving into what was really going down. So to say that Coppola could not resist making a movie about all this glammed goodie gathering, more than suggests multiple meanings.
Then what might The Bling Ring intimate on some significantly more solemn rather than shallow level. Placing this frivolous fare in the context of say, an anthropological artifact, some clarity manifests itself perhaps as a kind of post-Occupy reality. That is, while many Hollywood movies through time have exuded the projected paranoid flavor of fending off attacks upon their entitled class by the poor at home and the countries abroad that they have in actuality been exploiting, the current economic crisis which has seen the significant impoverishment of the middle class, may have supplied an additional downgraded economic adversary into the mix. Hence, the newly far less entitled hungering youth in the elite’s increasingly self-perceived as vulnerable luxuriant midst.
Though The Bling Ring does deserve credit for a particularly chilling cheery line. And it’s when one cocky collared consumerista declares on her own litigating, damage control behalf, ‘Someday I want to run a charity. Or a country.’ All sorts of notions that may be taking twisted flight among the already media-stupefied impressionable young audiences out there.
To see the trailer of The Bling Ring: