The Bling Ring (2013)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the Internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

So, why do Coppola's 'Bling Ring' steal all these luxury items from celebrities? This fictionalised account of a real life story provides no easy answers for its characters' motivations, leading some critics to read this as commendable non-didactic artistic ambiguity and others to label the film as being cowardly. No doubt there are a number of overlapping reasons at work and a significant amount of self-deception that masks their motivations as well. And the linger on how the story gives license to the kind of highly-gendered critique that can shade into misogyny with the right kind of delivery, the better. But I don't quite believe the pat explanations that they are 'copying what they see on TV' or they aren't content with being merely inordinately wealthy yet desire the lives of the super rich. That is to say, I'm not sure it's because they want to be the celebrities themselves or even to be associated with them despite them affecting celebrity mannerisms during the interview sequences. A big clue to this seems to be their (apparently unaffected) disinterest that Actually Paris Hilton is actually in the club with them. No, I suspect much of the reason is something akin to why the gang might have targeted Antonio Ricci in Bicycle Thieves (1948) — as in, the flyers for the new Rita Hayworth picture that Ricci is pasting up all around Rome represent everything that is unattainable to the working class thieves in post-WW2 (yet pre-Marshall Plan) Italy. And whilst their resentment at this cultural imposition is something we might come to have some grudging sympathy for on account of their obvious poverty, what provides the sting in Coppola's film (as it does throughout her filmography, in fact) is that, on broadly similar grounds, we are being cleverly needled into sympathising with folks already deep into the 1%.


The danger and consequences of crime has been bleached out of Coppola’s narrative completely, thus allowing a more concise, illuminating analysis of behavior and the deceptions of imagery. […] The Bling Ring isn’t the indictment of culture rot that many wanted it to be, but it shows an interesting variation and ever-so-slight critique of Coppola’s established vision. What’s so consistently attractive about all of Coppola’s films, including her latest, is less her glowing, rich aesthetic than her empathy for even the most recklessly over-privileged and despicable figures, reaching beyond judgmental haranguing to find compellingly odd and disquieting notes in seemingly unforgivable superficiality.

Chris Cabin (Slant Magazine)


I thought Coppola was going to end with Marc being taken to prison, but she’s got one more great scene: a reporter interviewing Nicki after her jail time. Nicki was in the same jail as Lindsey Lohan, one of their victims, and the reporter is more interested in Lohan than Nicki, nailing the adult culture that made the Bling Ring possible.

Tom Stempel (Slant Magazine)


To many, The Bling Ring was going to be a chance to look down on a vapid, self-obsessed generation who stupidly stumbled their way into crime because they were too short-sighted to think of the consequences. But Coppola, a maestro of youth-tinged girlhood empathy, saw a different story—one about the celebrity system’s weaknesses and a generation to whom branded material goods, “things,” actually meant something profound. The Bling Ring is a story of misplaced hope in self-betterment, and the audience is left with a sinking feeling that their bloodlust for vapid children being humiliated was, perhaps, misplaced.

Rory Doherty (Paste Magazine)