After Emma Watson’s recent appearance in the Seth Rogen-helmed apocalypse comedy This Is The End, and now in a role as a spoiled, narcissistic teenage burglar in The Bling Ring, I’ve come to one conclusion – Hermione Granger loves to steal shit.
It’s difficult to see her as anyone other than this:
But props to her, because she does a mighty fine job of turning viewer expectations on their head. Watson must absolutely hate the lack of distinction between her being a serious actress and a nerdy adolescent witch. But then again, what does she expect? It’s Harry Potter for crying out loud.
The Bling Ring is the latest from acclaimed writer and director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Somewhere) and is based on the bizarre true story of a group of privileged LA teens who robbed the homes of various celebrities like Paris Hilton (who even makes a cameo), Rachel Bilson and Orlando Bloom in the late naughties. The story would be completely ludicrous if it wasn’t true – the burglars literally walked into these homes via an open window or key under the mat (although I do expect nothing less of Paris Hilton).
The film centres on Marc (Israel Broussard), the new kid at a high school notorious for dropouts. It is here he befriends Rebecca (Katie Chang) who introduces him to the rest of her so-called ‘friends’ and future bling ring accomplices. These include Watson’s Nicki and her sisters, plus their airheaded mother (Leslie Mann) who home schools her daughters based on the teachings of self-help bible The Secret. Really. It’s this sense of ridiculousness and borderline lunacy that make the film so intriguing and subtly hilarious.
The gang meander in these homes with ease, stashing jewels into their bags, catwalk modeling in rooms brimming with clothes, and smoking weed and snorting stolen cocaine as they go. All the while taking photo after photo of themselves, documenting their escapades on Facebook and bragging about it to their peers.
Coppola’s signature style is in full swing here – a breezy, voyeuristic portrait of flowing camerawork, vain protagonists and a loose social commentary. In the wrong hands, this could have easily been over glamourised and grasping for sympathy, but through the director’s skill of detaching the viewer, there is an unmistakeably wry, unsettling tone throughout the entire film.
The five members of the burglar bunch are shallow, greedy, irresponsible pains-in-the-ass who rightly get what they deserve – a whole lot of prison time. You don’t feel for them, nor secretly root for them to succeed – these are reckless, superficial, flawed people who show no remorse and have practically mastered the art of faking it, right down to the overblown lines uttered by Nicki outside court.
There’s no feeling sorry for the celebrity ‘victims’ either – the sheer excessiveness on show, and the fact that they were being robbed for months on end without realising, merely highlights this materialistic world.
The Bling Ring also has a killer soundtrack to boot – Kanye West, Azealia Banks, M.I.A., Sleigh Bells and Frank Ocean all make welcome appearances – in stark contrast to most of the film’s foreboding quiet. As Mr Ocean drawls over the credits, “super rich kids with nothing but loose ends”, it basically sums up the dangerous, warped mindsets of a fame-obsessed youth.
This is Coppola’s message to a status-driven society. Don’t expect a poignant view on the matter – go for the haunting themes, stylish set pieces and uber-cool soundtrack. Or for Hermione on a pole – your choice.
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