Saturday, November 16, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Bling Ring (2013) ***½

R, 90 min.
Director/Writer: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda, Gavin Rossdale

Watching Sofia Copolla’s latest movie “The Bling Ring” brings two other movies to mind. The first is Copolla’s own freshmen movie “The Virgin Suicides”, about five sisters who commit suicide together after a failed attempt by one. The other is this year’s earlier film by Harmony Kormine “Spring Breakers” about four girls who get into crime in order to support their efforts to live the high life at St. Petersburg for a college spring break trip. “The Bling Ring” tells the true story of a group of teenagers, one boy and four girls, who get their kicks breaking into the homes of famous people and stealing their possessions.

All three films focus on a disconnect that seems to exist in the modern teenager. Either they cannot feel emotions on the same level as those around them, or they experience too much emotion to handle and they cope by living out fantasies that bring them into danger beyond their comprehension. Copolla’s first film is a little different in that it deals with the despondency of the five sisters due to the sheltering they are forced into by their deeply religious parents. But, since it comes from the same director and deals with the same age group as “The Bling Ring” it’s hard to ignore many of the films’ similarities.

One such similarity held by all three films is the importance of their soundtracks, filled with modern music that not only enhances the action of the films, but exists to the point of seeming imposition on the story. The musicscapes of these films shape the worlds these misguided teens inhabit. For “The Virgin Suicides” the music by Air fills the sisters’ world with despair and detachment. Other contributions show them some of the joys of high school in the 70s before their world it shut to those unattainables.

In “Spring Breakers” and “The Bling Ring” the music glorifies a life of excess and material goods that inspire these children to take what they want rather than earn it. In “The Bling Ring”, the kids eventually pay the price for their poor choices, although they never seem to fully comprehend that they’re at fault. Their boredom with the normal has made them detached from the reality that surrounds them, and the real goals they aspire to are lost forever. Is this really the state of our teens today? Does our obsession with celebrity and the false nature of it make real connections impossible for the younger generation wrapped up in it? Perhaps for more kids today than in the past. Luckily, these are isolated examples that can act as lessons for today’s teens and hopefully allow them to better understand their place in the world.

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