- Released Internationally on 12/06/13
- Released in Malta by KRS on 24/07/13
3-word review: Sick but fascinating.
I often refer back to a comment I once read - that a good film is one that manages to make the audience feel anything strongly enough. The more films I watch, the more I agree. I liked this one quite a bit, for example, despite it making me want to reach into the screen and slap every single main character hard in the face. I sincerely hope that every person who watches this film is disgusted at some level.
“We had so many beautiful gorgeous things.”
Based on recent true events, this is the worrying tale of a group of spoilt Hollywood teenagers who despite having way too much ‘stuff’ and money in their lives, let their obsessions with fame and celebrity turn them into a ring of burglars, stealing designer items from the mansions of the the stars, enjoying the rush of the invasion even more than the acquisition of more stuff. The warped products of the Facebook generation are presented in near-documentary style, with the camera observing their vapid lifestyles, ridiculous conversation and dangerous boredom. How one spends the day and night is not half as important as how one looks in the ‘selfie’ photos one takes and posts online, and the definition of a successful life is not whether you enjoy your day, but how fabulous it looks on Facebook. I’m sure this rings a few bells with any regular social media user, and this phenomenon is a real and present problem, along with our increasing obsession with watching anything remotely interesting through the screen of our phone camera, rather than with our eyes.
“America’s sick fascination”
As I sat peering into the accessorized lives of these pseudo-spiritual juvenile delinquents, I felt a similar feeling of disgust to when I used to watch MTV’s ‘Cribs’, a show which used to showcase the exorbitant and ridiculous excesses that the filthy rich incorporate into their homes. These brand-obsessed teenagers left me feeling similarly empty and soulless, and sad that this level of superficiality actually exists. It’s like watching the E! channel all day long.
The biggest name in the film, Emma Watson, has some initial trouble shaking off her Hermione character from the Harry Potter films, which is of course how us audiences have seen her growing up. But once you embrace the new accent and attitude, there’s a fine-tuned performance worth noting, and one that brings home the complete lack of self-awareness her character has. A lack of self-awareness that is of course fuelled by reality - these young criminals served their short prison terms and emerged ready to milk their new found fame and make the most of the situation. It’s fame that’s important, not how you got it.
Sofia Coppola continues to build her impressive directing filmography and adds her usual brand of style to the proceedings. The brazen titles, the obtrusive but intoxicating music montages and the hedonistic dialogue are equally matched by a few beautifully constructed scenes, including a gorgeous long take of one of the burglaries. She even manages to make CCTV footage look classy. Some might argue that the film offers no statement or lesson at the end of it all, but I didn’t feel it was necessary - the film is a statement in itself and perfectly captures many symptoms of the sick society we live in.
The Vanity Fair article on which the film is based: The Suspects Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales.