It is so Hard Being a Celebrity.
With Sofia Coppola’s latest film The Bling Ring (2013), the filmmaker delves once again into the life of celebrity and its effect on those affected by and around it. With this film, a common thread with her last three films congeals. These are a series of films portraying, in perhaps somewhat of a harsh light, the life of the privileged elite.
Her masterpiece so far, the Oscar nominated Lost in Translation (2003)*, is a window into the life of a celebrity actor who may be in decline; an uprooted transplant into a foreign world, trying to find his real self which he has lost, perhaps somewhere in California.
The lavish opulence and artificial reality created by the bubble of splendor and riches is portrayed to the max in the mixed reviewed Marie Antoinette (2006), a movie with extraordinary filmmaking deserving of greater recognition than it has received.
The understated Somewhere (2010) once again turns the lens on a famous actor that is living the disconnect in the Chateau Marmont, isolated in the center of his world, perhaps a reality that Coppola has observed or even escaped from in her own life.
While The Bling Ring also depicts the life of the rich and famous it shows it mostly from outside its blinding bubble. Fascinated and bedazzled fans look inside into it, and want to emulate the lifestyle of the media engorged celebrities they see there. They crave it so much that they have to live it by proxy even just for a few minutes inside their houses, in their cars, taking their stuff (“she has so much”). The film portrays the superficiality and emotionally stunted life of the sociopath fan and at the same time, by implication in their materialism, that of their targets. This look at the dehumanizing aspect of celebrity, either for those at the center of it or for those blinded by it, is a common thread found in all of these Coppola films.
As a body of work these four films reveal a social critique beyond that of each one taken by itself and signal the strength and future of Coppola as one of the great filmmakers of our time.
*Lost in Translation had four Academy nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director. and Best Original Screenplay. It won for Best Original Screenplay. Marie Antoinette was nominated and won for Best Achievement in Costume Design.