Another season of the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club started on Monday night with the showing of Sofia Coppola's latest film The Bling Ring (2013). As with her previous movie Somewhere (2010) she not only directed but also wrote and co-produced it as well. Our host for the evening was Film Club regular Alec Barclay and he started his introduction by telling us a little about the director’s background. 42 year old Coppola is the only daughter of Francis Ford Coppola who was responsible for directing such films as The Godfather Trilogy (1972-1990), The Conversation (1974) and of course one of the top three films of all time (my words not Alec's) Apocalypse Now (1979). She started her career by appearing as an infant in seven of her father’s films. Her directing career started with the 1999 movie The Virgin Suicides, a film that tells of events surrounding the suicides of five sisters in an upper middle class suburb of Detroit during the 1970's. Her second feature was the award winning Lost in Translation (2003), which starred Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray as an ill matched couple that form a touching non-sexual relationship after a chance meeting in a Tokyo hotel. She's followed this with Marie Antoinette (2006), loosely based on the life of the French Queen leading up to the French Revolution; it won an Academy Award for Costume Design.
The Bling Ring is based on a magazine article that appeared in Vanity Fare, which in turn is based on the true story of a group of seven young people who between October 2008 and August 2009 burgled the Los Angles homes of several celebrities including Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox. The value of the stolen designer goods and cash was said to be in excess of 3 million dollars. In fact a great deal of the stolen property belonged to the American Heiress and socialite Paris Hilton who along with Kirsten Dunst appear in the movie as themselves. These spoilt rich kids track the activities of the celebrities on line and enter their homes whilst they’re away. Its Sofia Coppola's knowledge involving the creed of celebrity culture and its effect on impressionable youngsters that makes this film a stylish take on the world of the imagined importance of material wealth and instant communication.
You really want to dislike these shallow middle class Hollywood burglars with their know all attitude and swagger, but because the film does not moralise or criticise the ring members or there ultra opulent victims, and because of the rich vain of humour that runs right through out the films 90 minutes running time you can’t help but have a sneaking regard for these young people and as Chris Fujiwara said in his programme notes for the 2013 EIFF 'Coppola creates a detailed and casually convincing portrait of the social milieu of the informal gang, enabling us to view them as they see themselves: not as rebels or daring outlaws, but as normal kids who are merely acting out to the fullest the premises of their media driven, consumerist culture by taking literally the fantasy of imaginary intimacy with celebrities'
It certainly would be remiss of me not to mention the young cast who are excellent especially Katie Chang who plays the so called leader of the gang Rebecca Ahn, Israel Broussard as the only male member of the gang Marc Hall and not forgetting Emma Watson (Nicki Moore) who has grown from the 11 year old Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (2001) via her part as Lucy the young dresser in My Week With Marilyn (2011) into a very beautiful and talented 23 year old actress. As our host said to me afterwards he was not expecting a great deal from this film, but what we did get was an enjoyable and amusing slice of the modern day, middle class American life style.