Very few filmmakers can make only five films and still be known for their originality, skill, and artistic integrity. It’s even rarer for that filmmaker to be a descendant of an iconic filmmaker themselves. But Sofia Coppola is exactly that.
She established her reputation in 1999 with The Virgin Suicides, before breaking out with 2003’s Lost in Translation. Marie Antoinette arrived to somewhat less acclaim a few of years later, before 2010’s dreamy but divisive Somewhere. In 2013, Coppola has gone in an entirely new direction with her latest flick The Bling Ring. Compared to her previous work, it has a totally new attitude, approach, and atmosphere.
The film centres on a series of real life Hollywood burglaries and the people behind them. Rising stars Katie Chang and Israel Broussard star as the ringleaders of a group called Rebecca & Marc, which steals from famous celebrities homes’ in LA. They’re joined by other fame obsessed delinquents including Nikki (Emma Watson). Kirsten Dunst and Paris Hilton have quick cameos, with the adding bonus that some of the scenes were shot in Paris Hilton’s own house.
Whilst this isn’t Sofia’s strongest film to date, it’s certainly an enjoyable new direction for her. Instead of a low beat, melodramatic story about one character’s battle to fit into an alien world, the characters themselves feel very alien to the audience. Compared to the average cinematic viewer, they live a life close to luxury, and constantly break rules to ensure that their status in the world around them. What makes this film convincing is the ensemble performance. With enough conviction that it’s not difficult to buy into their egotistical personalities as they swan around LA, never knowing what they’ll conspire to do next.
When it comes to reviews of this film, everyone will be talking about Emma Watson: good or bad. Her performance is the complete opposite of what she’s known for. Her character is an all-out LA party girl, living the glamorous life and enjoying every minute of it. She’s bitchy, smart and very manipulative when required. Watson absolutely owns each trait. It was easy to forget how recently she was playing teacher’s pet Hermione Granger. Leslie Mann has a brilliant supporting performance as a mother engulfed in her own personal world, giving the impression to the audience that she might be a bit mad.
Coppola’s biggest problem is the pacing. It really lets the film down. Compared to her previous films, the structure of the film is too hectic. It leaves little time to adjust and understand the characters actions and their subsequent consequences. In most of her films, Coppola manages to make you relate to her characters in some way or another. But with The Bling Ring, it’s a more difficult due to the the characters’ economic status and their attitudes to life.
The Bling Ring is another strong film by Sofia Coppola, but not the strongest film she’s made. Whilst the film contains strong performances and snappy dialogue it’s not enough to overcome the film’s pacing. Whilst still a fine film that will undoubtedly raise her film-making profile, it’s not enough to surpass her previous work. It will almost certainly be remembered more as the breakout performance of Emma Watson.
The Bling Ring is out in cinemas from the 5th of July