Saturday, 27 July 2013

NZIFF Film Review: "The Bling Ring" (2013).

"I think we just wanted to be part of the lifestyle. The lifestyle that everybody kinda wants." Which sums what the meaning of The Bling Ring. This satirical black comedy crime film based on actual events. Directed, written and produced by Sofia Coppola, it features an ensemble cast including newcomers Israel Broussard, Katie Chang and Claire Julien, as well as Taissa Farmiga and Emma Watson. Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers, Rebecca (the ringleader), Marc, Nicki, Sam and Chloe, known as the Bling Ring, use the Internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes. Victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr.

The Bling Ring, sometimes called the "Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch", "The Burglar Bunch", or the "Hollywood Hills Burglars", were a group of 7, mostly of teenagers based in and around Calabasas, California, who burgled the homes of several celebrities over a period believed to have been from around October 2008 through August 2009. In total, their activities resulted in the theft of about $3 million in cash and belongings, most of it from Paris Hilton, whose house was burgled several times. However, over 50 homes were reportedly targeted for potential burglary. The ring members included Rachel Lee, Nick Prugo, Diana Tamayo, Johnny Ajar, Roy Lopez, Jr., Courtney Ames and Alexis Neiers. They were all found guilty on counts of burglary and were all sentenced to prison for 30 days to 4 years. Some of them have been released, except for Ajar - who was reported to be back in jail in May 2013.

Emma Watson's character, Nicki, is closely based on Alexis Neiers. "Twitterers meet Nicki, Nicki meet twitterers", Watson tweeted. "Nicki likes Lip Gloss, Purses, Yoga, Pole Dancing, Uggs, Louboutins, Juice Cleanses, Iced coffee and Tattoos." Alexis Neiers wasn't particularly impressed. "Close but I've never & would never wear that", she tweeted about Watson's wardrobe—but she was quick to add, "It has been a blessing to work with Mrs Coppola & I'm still in shock that Emma is playing me. I am sure she will be fantastic." Watson said that she prepared for her part by watching The Hills and Keeping Up With the Kardashians to "understand the psychology" of her bling- and celebrity-obsessed character. She said that she also listened to Britney Spears' Femme Fatale album to get into the mind-frame of her character. American Horror Story star Taissa Farmiga joined the ensemble cast, as well as Leslie Mann, Israel Broussard (Flipped), Katie Chang, Claire Julien and Georgia Rock. Besides Watson and Farmiga, Coppola chose relative newcomers to play the group of teens.

It's hard to remember a film that mixes disparate, delicate ingredients with the subtlety and virtuosity of Sofia Coppola's brilliant The Bling Ring. There's an outrageous quality here, a satirical humor that speaks to the public’s needs and obsessions of celebrity life. It covers familiar territory for Coppola, but the film remains a hypnotic, seductively pensive meditation on the nature of celebrity life, anchored by brilliant performances from the cast.

Simon says The Bling Ring receives:

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