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Feature
Sofia Coppola: Film By Film
From The Godfather Part III to The Bling Ring

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With the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now for a dad, a Moonrise Kingdom writer for a brother and, yes, Ghost Rider for a cousin, Sofia Coppola has movie making in the blood. She has turned that family tradition into a successful filmmaking career as one of Hollywood’s most distinctive voices – as fans of Lost In Translation, Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Suicides, among others, will testify. Now with The Bling Ring she brings her stylish aesthetic to bear on a story of idolatry, crimes and Versace dresses. Empire took her back, film-by-film, over her career to date.

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
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The Bling Ring (2013)

The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola

Sparked by a Vanity Fair article called ‘The Suspects Wore Louboutins’ Sofia Coppola came across in the seatback pocket of a commercial airliner, The Bling Ring centres on a gang of Gen Z fame worshippers with a line in housebreaking. Like Ocean’s Eleven with a more advanced sense of entitlement, their ambitions stretch to establishing lifestyle brands and cleaning out Paris Hilton’s jewellery drawers.

“My first thought when I read it was, “Wow, this’d be a great movie.” I started looking into the rights for our family film company, American Zoetrope, but assumed someone had already secured them because it had all the elements of a fun movie with an interesting look at this [social] phenomenon. Also, this true-crime story was so unlike anything I’ve ever done, so it was like interesting to figure out how to do it in my own style. At first, they seem like a group of unsympathetic characters – and how do you make a movie about them? But with the boy, Nick, for instance, you see how he got fucked up and wanted to be part of this crowd. [Cinematographer] Harris Savides’ daughter was my dialogue consultant. She’d say, “Me and my friends mostly call each other ‘sluts’, ‘whores’ or ‘bitches’.” The slang wasn’t that that foreign to me or that different to the ‘80s. There’s still lots of ‘totally’s.

The Bling Ring, Emma Watson

Bling Ringleader-cum-“future national leader”, the light-fingered Nicki Moore is played by Emma Watson. She’s based on Alexis Neiers, now a 22 year-old mum and former reality TV star, but at the time, in the words of Vanity Fair, the head of the ”most successful and outrageous burglary gang in recent Hollywood memory”.

“That’s Nicki smoking something illegal off tinfoil in her bedroom, surrounded by prescription pills and VIP passes. She’s wearing the Versace dress they stole from Paris Hilton’s house. [The Bling Ring] were from the Valley, just over the hill from Hollywood: this beige, suburban world. It’s not glamorous and they were striving to be a part of glossier world. Nicki does such a great job of transforming herself into this LA party girl, with the spray tan and hair extensions. It could easily have been a spoof of a character, but Emma [Watson] somehow grounded it in something real. She did a great job, and got the accent spot-on. In the film Nicki and the others are smoking joints, but it was heroin in real life. The real story is a lot darker than we showed."

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Your Comments

1 No mention of 'Life without Zoe'
that truly awful short film she wrote, directed by Francis, part of New York Stories. I cannot stress how bad this thing is but from reading about The Bling Ring, the two are not so dissimilar. More

Posted by simon2006 on Sunday July 14, 2013, 23:57

2
Actually Ghost Rider is her cousin, not uncle More

Posted by PaoloCorleone on Thursday July 4, 2013, 19:37

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