If I were to become a filmmaker, I imagine that my work would look something a bit like Sofia Coppola’s. Though I’ve not seen all of her films, I hold a deep reverence for three in particular: The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and now The Bling Ring. They make up a perfect trifecta that represent the limited and liberating prison of feminine youth. Dressed in shiny pretty things, all of Coppola’s main characters are archetypes that we see and recognize as ourselves and therefore both love and hate.
In terms of simply “liking” to “disliking”, my preferential order of the three would be parallel to the linear order of the historical settings – Antoinette, Suicides, then Bling. Perhaps this is because the farther removed I am from the context, the more willing I am to buy into the romantic or poetic notion of the characters’ stories. Marie Antoinette is a visual feast for my eyes which makes me completely oblivious and almost ignorant of the actual truth of the history behind the character. On the flip side Bling Ring is similarly attractive to my material desires, but completely sickening for me to indulge in. The disparity in pure viewing pleasure is inversely related to how easily I can envision myself in their respective conflicts. For the purpose of staying focused I will try to remain on the topic of the Bling Ring.
The reason you want to go see The Bling Ring is two-fold; the first being that you love Emma Watson and you want to see her embody what you think is hopefully the antithesis of her real personality. The second being that you still have that teenage (20-something, middle-aged, whatever) girl inside of you who wants to just surround yourself with pretty and luxurious things in order to feel valuable and admired. Add these two together with the fact that I love Sofia Coppola and there was really no way I wasn’t going to see this movie.
The Bling Ring has an uncanny ability to take you back to a time when popularity and having stuff really were two important things on your mind (maybe the only things on your mind). While it’s an agonizing existence, it’s also sort of the root of our humanity. Even as adults, we want to be liked and we want to have things. Usually one has some sort of influence on the other. This movie is fun and boring at the same time, which reflects that sort of detached feeling that we felt most strongly in our pubescence but continues to nag at us through adulthood as well.
The whole idea of this movie is sort of genius because it’s consistently vapid in a completely purposeful way. Even more genius is that we’re spending money to see it – to see a glossy portrayal of a story about spoiled teenagers robbing the rich and famous and doing absolutely nothing worthwhile with their privilege (hits a little close to Versailles, huh?).
It’s pretty disgusting how grounded in truth this film really is. Modern society is about material and media; followers is influence and influence is power. Perhaps the shiny tech package has changed, but the substance within has always been the same. We sacrifice the potential of real connections and relationships for the chance to have what others will covet – to be seen as important among the greater population. So, I think my conclusion is that while I’m glad I saw it, I’ll never want to watch The Bling Ring again. There’s really just no need to be reminded of how annoying our culture is (we pretty much see it every day regardless). It was a glimpse into the emptiness of being a modern-day teenager and for that, it deserves props. But just like those teenagers, it makes you feel sort of like you’re wasting away unless you go buy (or steal) something else.
[ images via Bling Ring Facebook ]