Sofie Coppola on fame, infamy and robbing the rich in The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola dicusses her take on a notorious tale of celebrity obsession in The Bling Ring
As a child, growing up in her father’s home in the Bay Area, Sofia coppola would have met many of the era’s great movie stars.
The Bling Ring examines a group of wealthy Los Angeles teenagers who, in 2008 and 2009, broke into the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. It’s a bizarre tale.
You have to wonder how Sofia Coppola made herself heard at the family dinner table. Francis Ford Coppola, her father, has never come across as a squashed cabbage and, if his depiction of the Italian-American meal in The Godfather is worth heeding, such occasions crackle with conversation and squabbles. Yet, despite having won an Oscar a decade ago, Sofia still speaks as if she’s just been summoned to the office of a particularly stern headmistress. Maybe, it’s a Californian thing. Whispered sentences fade away into meandering breaths. She’s polite. She’s clever. But she doesn’t exactly explode into the room.
Mind you, her speciality is slightly deadened lives. From The Virgin Suicides, through Lost in Translation on to Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, Coppola has chronicled characters who, not at home to the verbal, communicate through inactivity.
“I wouldn’t say they’re, um, deadened,” she murmurs. “I think they are all just a little bit lost. They are all alive. But they are in transition. They are trying to find their way. The drama comes from inner turmoil rather than outer fury. I think . . . ”
Sofia Coppola talks about The Bling Ring
The latest expression of this strategy comes in the much-ballyhooed The Bling Ring. Based on a magazine article by Nancy Jo Sales, the picture examines a group of wealthy Los Angeles teenagers who, in 2008 and 2009, broke into the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. It’s a bizarre tale.
After opening unlocked doors (or finding keys beneath mats), the young people try on shoes, pick up wads of cash and drive unmolested back through the foothills. They were not after the money. They were not so concerned with the luxury goods. Their main concern was rubbing against celebrity.
“I tried to put myself in their shoes,”Coppola says. “It is hard for me to understand. I get the guilty pleasure of dropping into that celebrity culture from time to time. But they are so immersed in it. I tried to remember being that age.”
One might reasonably wonder about Sofia’s own interactions with the world of celebrity. As a child, growing up in her father’s home in the Bay Area, she would have met many of the era’s great movie stars. At the start of the last decade, following the success of Lost in Translation, she and director Spike Jonze, then her husband, were among the trendiest couples on the planet.
“Well, when I was growing up, we weren’t in Hollywood,” she says. “We were in the country and, crucially, I got exposed to a lot of culture from my father. These kids really weren’t getting that from their family. Everything now comes from celebrity. Someone asked me what they were rebelling against and I don’t think they were rebelling against anything. They are a part of it all.”
Golly, it makes you feel old. Crisp in garments whose label somebody other than me would immediately identify, Sofia Coppola still seems like an avatar of rising youth culture. But, at 42, she is easily old enough to regard the youth who inspired The Bling Ring as puzzling representatives of a corrupt younger generation.