London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Some people may recall the vitriolic reception that Sofia Coppola received from Western film critics for her role in The Godfather: Part III. Now, 13 years after her directorial debut with The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola occupies a unique space in American film-making, being viewed as the undisputed queen of the indie movie scene.
Sofia Coppola’s films receive attention from across the world, and this is certainly the case with her latest directorial offering, The Bling Ring, which was shown at this year’s Cannes festival and is set to be released in the US later this week.
The Bling Ring is inspired by a true story, namely the real-world exploits of the so-called Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch, a teenage gang that robbed a number of well-known celebrities, including Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton (on more than one occasion), and Lindsay Lohan.
Coppola directs the film in an objective manner, which allows the audience to make up their own minds about the moral issues that are raised.
She says: “Sometimes I used to stop writing because I was looking for the right way to present the story. I did not want to tell the story in the traditional way; I wanted to find the best way to deal with the subject through the film.”
Coppola emphasized that she wants to involve the audience in her films. In the case of The Bling Ring, she said: “I want the audience to see that this was not the work of a great criminal gang, but the work of teenagers.”
Coppola revealed that she was interested in learning about the effects that the media culture has on teenagers today, adding that we live in a world where anyone can become a celebrity—even if only for a short while—thanks to the tabloids and reality TV.
Although Coppola was reluctant to get into specifics about the characters of her film, she describes Laurie, the mother character played by Leslie Mann as being just as guilty as her daughter, played by Emma Watson, due to her avid pursuit of celebrity.
Coppola says she took the decision to direct The Bling Ring as she was keen to make a film that focused on teenagers. Although the film does allude to the influences that tabloid media and reality TV have on teenagers, the director stressed that she did not want the film to carry any specific message or to overtly answer the questions it raises. Coppola said she wanted to present the events of the story openly and leave it up to the viewers to make up their own minds.
On dealing with famous actors like Emma Watson and Leslie Mann, Coppola emphasized that she wanted her actors to inhabit their characters on the camera, adding, “This is why the performances of known and unknown actors are equally balanced.”
Coppola revealed that she asked the actors to spend time together before filming so that they could become comfortable with one another and produce a “natural performance.”
The Bling Ring received good to excellent reviews at Cannes; however, it was not Coppola’s first appearance at the French film festival. She had previously attended Cannes with Marie Antoinette, which was panned by French film critics. Coppola disagreed, saying that although the film did receive some criticism; it received good reviews too.
On her experience in Cannes, she said: “I like coming to the festival, and I have some important memories. I came here as a child with my father [director Francis Ford Coppola], and on this occasion I was much happier than ever before; I feel as if I was brought up here.”
Asked about her views of the criminal gang in real life, Coppola expressed surprise that a gang could burgle the same property on more than one occasion.
As for whether she fears burglars in the wake of directing this film, Sofia Coppola laughed, saying, “No, I am not that famous. I lead a private life. . . . But like most normal people, I lock my doors.”