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
“I knew they were going to make a movie out of it,” she says. “I thought: they have to do it the way I saw it. I had a very clear idea what I wanted visually.”
Sure enough, the picture emerged in 1999 to very strong reviews. She hooked up with Spike Jonze – whose equally well-received Being John Malkovich was released that same year – and powered quietly forwards into the limelight. Lost in Translation became one of the key films of the decade. Featuring Bill Murray as an American adrift in Tokyo, the film has its detractors, but, when 2010 came around, it found itself on a great many critics’ “best of the decade” lists.
Has she worked out why it had that impact?
Sofia Coppola talks about The Bling Ring
“No, not at all,” she says. “I was really surprised. I thought I was making a personal film about stuff I was trying to figure out myself. I was surprise how much that connected with people. I knew Bill Murray was lovable. But it never occurred to me that it would have universal appeal.”
It seemed to sum up a post-millennial uncertainty.
“I don’t know. Um . . . ,” she falters. “It was really about my own time in Japan. I never thought about it that way at all.”
Happily, her style was so different to her father’s nobody could accuse him of pulling any hidden creative strings. Indeed, there are few directors whose work so accurately reflect their personalities. Just as the loud, drunk Sam Peckinpah made loud, drunk films. The stylish, introspective Sofia Coppola makes stylish, introspective films.
Still, Francis must find it hard not to offer advice. Like all parents, he must occasionally phone up in the middle of the night to tell you to do something you were always going to do.
“That’s funny,” she says, without laughing. “He does appreciate that I do things my own way. He will offer advice and I am glad to have access to that brain. There are times when he’ll say: ‘Don’t forget this.’”
Coppola does now seem to set up a quietly ideal life. Divorced from Jonze in 2003, she married Thomas Mars, singer with French synth-pop band Phoenix, in 2011 and the couple now divide their time between Paris and New York City. And, for all the changes in the industry, she (somewhat depressingly) still remains a standard bearer for women directors. Kathryn Bigelow may have won an Oscar, but there are precious few women at the helm of commercial pictures.
We had this conversation when Lost in Translation came out. Why are we still having it?
“I don’t know,” she says, retreating into herself again. “I don’t know any more than you do . . . Maybe it’s changing a bit.”
Well, if Sofia Coppola’s career tells us anything, it tells that you don’t need to shout to get heard. Maybe, that’s good news.
yyy The Bling Ring is on general release and is reviewed on page 12