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The Bling Ring

Living the Dream, One Heist at a Time 

Year: 2013 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Sofia Coppola 
Starring: Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard  
An image from The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola’s films tend to focus on lonely privileged characters, ranging from Marie Antoinette to the fictional actor in Somewhere. The Bling Ring is in the same vein as it is based on the true story of five young and wealthy fame-obsessed teenagers who used the internet to track their favourite celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes from 2008 to 2009. Their victims included Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan. It is a shocking display of today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, when many young people believe that money and having access to designer goods will eradicate all of their problems.

The Bling Ring, as they became known, would either keep the goods they stole or sell them to pay for wild nights out in Los Angeles, with everything being documented on Facebook. They were eventually caught for their crimes and punished, but the film does not provide a moral analysis and its nonjudgmental approach is very appropriate, allowing the audience to reach their own opinions. The cast is largely unknown but they brilliantly portray the gang as self-absorbed celebrity-worshippers who think that wearing a stolen pair of celebrity sunglasses will give some of that celebrity lifestyle they so desperately desire. Katie Chang plays ringleader Rebecca and Emma Watson takes on a drastic transformation as the egotistical Nicki, who takes drugs and pole-dances.

The film’s view on celebrity is ambiguous, made even more so by the fact that Paris Hilton allowed her house to be used for filming the recreation of her own burglary scenes. Coppola may not offer a firm opinion on the crimes themselves and the deeper reasons for them, but nevertheless this is a very interesting and captivating film that raises deep questions about the nature of celebrity itself and society’s fixation with it.

Olivia Lynch

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Autumn Term (digital)