Nick Coccoma reviews Sofia Coppola’s new film, The Bling Ring, which he describes as “perhaps [Coppola’s] most biting, damning portrait of society yet”:
The Bling Ring depicts Hollywood culture yet again … The kids in Coppola’s current picture don’t even possess the elemental soul powers to know they’re fucking nothing. They’re parodies of people, but they don’t seem to care. After all, that’s what celebrities are, isn’t it? And The Bling Ring is yet another hilariously terrifying reminder that a huge segment of America wants to be just like them.
What’s most disturbing is the utter simplicity of these kids’ motivation.
As Coppola presents them, they’re living proof of anthropologist René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire. They want the Prada, Chanel and Gucci because it’s what other people want, famous people. (And this despite the fact that most of their families already have more money than God.) They seem to come prepackaged with these desires; we don’t see any process by which the kids become what they are. And with the slight exception of Marc, none of them displays even the faintest hint of hesitation—the exactitude with which Rebecca, Nicki, Chloe, Sam, and Emily case the joints and carjack Mercedes’ makes you simultaneously laugh and gasp. Coppola shows depth upon depth of material vacuity. …
Coppola shows you the insanity of a world in which people fall on their face so publicly and then turn even their bad girl/boy behavior into egomaniacal redemption stories for the press. Nicki is the apotheosis of this cult of the self, played to delicious perfection by Emma Watson. Her performance is at once tongue-in-cheek and shot straight from the hip; she’s so intelligent in her ditzy portrayal that you can almost hear her saying, “Can you believe this girl?” What you do hear from her mouth are lines that boggle the cerebral apparatus. “I think this situation was attracted into my life because it was supposed to be a huge learning lesson for me to grow and expand as a spiritual human being,” she tells an E! News camera crew outside the courthouse. “God didn’t give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge charity organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.” The only thing more stupefying than these words is the fact that it’s what Alexis Neiers, the flesh-and-blood basis of Nicki’s character, actually said.