Good girl goes bad as Emma grows up

by Staff Reporter

STYLE is king in Hollywood, everybody knows that.
Sometimes a film, or a film star, can skate by with little in the way of substance but bags of style.
It is a time-honoured tradition for actors and actresses to get to the top based on little more than good looks or media hype.
In most places, that would be a bad thing, but in Hollywood it is something to be celebrated.
With The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola takes on the story of a group that aspired only to being members of the Hollywood elite.
The vapid airheads of the Bling Ring were a group of Hollywood teens who longed to rub shoulders with the Lohans, Hiltons and assorted Hills cast members of the world.
Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t get there on their own, so took to stealing from a number of celebrities.
It is a novel approach to notoriety and one that you feel the protaganists didn’t exactly regret, such was their fixation on getting onto the E! network.
The type of teenagers who drive white Audi’s to school tend not to have a handle on perspective, you see.
Taking the accumulated material possesions of the likes of Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox is presented as fun and games as the film shifts into a heist movie.
It is a morally fluid shift as Coppola refuses staunchly to pick a side or openly condemn the actions, or attitudes, of her leads.
This is where the film excels, holding an almost documentary-like view on the thefts, letting the audience decide if these are the actions of a group of naturally bad people or just some disaffected youth.
Visually and stylistically, Coppola masters the sheen and intoxicating glamour of the scene that these Bonnies and Clydes exist in.
Rather than settle for a formula in the thefts, Coppola makes each one feel unique.
Orlando Bloom’s house gets the quick-cut surveillance treatment, while Audrina Partridge (look her up, I had to) gets jacked in one glorious wide shot.
The choice of Emma Watson as home-schooled brat Nicki raised eyebrows across Hollywood as commentators wondered if Hermione Granger could be bought as a bad girl.
In another interesting selection by the former Gryffindor pupil, this perfect delivery of Valley-girl delusion builds on her excellent turn in last year’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and marks Watson as a smart, incredibly savvy actress.
It is a clever pick for both Coppola and Watson, but Katie Chang as the group’s de facto leader is a showstopper.
In her head, she wants to run a fashion label, but in reality is just something of a manipulative thief.
However, Chang’s dedication to her character’s bitchiness elevates the film as a whole.
As do the cameos from Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst, who send up the whole situation beautifully.
While Coppola may not have had it as an actress, as a director she’s fantastic.

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