Sofia Coppola’s latest feature film, The Bling Ring, brings to the big screen the true story of a group of vacuous Hollywood teens who came to (dubious) fame after robbing celebrities’ sprawling mansions.
Adapted from a 2010 Vanity Fair article, The Subject Wore Louboutins, Coppola aims to shine a light on America’s culture of fame-obsession and superficiality, but the subject matter seems a tad thin for a full-length movie, and her impartial point of view leaves the viewer confused about what to take from the experience.
The film follows new-kid-in-school Marc (Israel Broussard) as he strikes up a friendship with cool-girl Rachel (Katie Chang), bonding over their mutual love of high-fashion, clubbing and celeb-watching.
Rachel educates him in the art of petty robbery from unlocked cars in her affluent neighbourhood, but it’s not long until she turns her sights to bigger targets – socialite and party-girl Paris Hilton.
After breaking in to Hilton’s home with shocking ease, the pair get a taste for the material possessions of the rich and famous, and are the envy of their clothes-obsessed friends - Nicki (Emma Watson), her adopted sister Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe (Claire Julien) - who all beg to be let in on the act.
Soon, the disorganised and opportunistic troupe is raiding the homes of their favourite LA stars, including Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Orlando Bloom and, the ultimate target, Lindsay Lohan.
After the first few robberies, the film gets a bit repetitive, as the camera pans over endless heaps of diamond jewellery, vertiginous heels and embellished handbags, while designers' names are dropped with abandon.
Coppola is typically non-judgemental in her directorial approach, and makes no effort to provide insight into the robbers' motivations. Coupled with the fact that The Bling Ring is being sold as “the summer’s coolest film”, with a painfully hip soundtrack to boot, it seems to glorify the actions of those involved and give them more unneeded attention.
There are some pretty funny one-liners in the script, all of which were utilised in the trailer, but the gormless Valley-girl talk really starts to grate after a while. These are not people you want to spend an hour-and-a-half of your time with.