When I was asked to work with LifeShake, I didn’t have a clue of what I would write.
After all, I told myself, how extraordinary and interesting the life and the thoughts of a twenty-years-old student can be to a reader? Everytime I found a possible subject to talk about, then hypothetical answers came to my mind, such as: “The difference between your opinion and pizza is that I asked for pizza”.
I eventually realized that the only way to live with such a sensible and defeatist brain was to sin of unconsciousness: with this only security, I finally decided to write and offer the only thing that I can offer, without particular titles or merits, without specific knowledges, without anybody needing to know what I think: a point of view on the world, however limited, questionable and weird it can be considered.
And it’s right by beginning from a point of view that has been considered limited, questionable and weird that I want to give my first contribution to this blog: I’m talking about the last, rumored work as a director by Sofia Coppola, the movie taking its name from the band of criminal teenagers of Los Angeles, the “Bling Ring”.
First af all, I have to say that when I decided to go to the cinema and watch it, I did my best to succeed in getting a discounted ticket, or even to watch it for free, discouraged by my friends’ and the critics’ reviews.
All I knew was that it was a plot-less, depth-less movie, without charachters that would arouse any feeling, making an exception for shallow erotic drives.
The only consideration that, after all, led me to go and see it was my trust in Sofia Coppola’s point of view. I’m convinced that if at the end of the day I appreciated “Bling Ring”, too, it was because it hadn’t been useless for me to watch her complete filmography and identify in it a “Bible of the adolescence”.
I believe that Sofia Coppola occupies, in the world of the cinema, a place that hardly others would have been able to fill; each movie of hers is permeated by a sacred respect for the adolescence, that can belong only to those who don’t feel grown-up yet, or to those whose heart never stopped being young.
Sofia Coppola’s talent as a director lies precisely in her skill to break into these hearts without trampling on them, making her way through the lightest and burning passions, dragging along such fragile emotional buildings that one can’t but be moved by their grace, forgetting for a moment their weakness in front of the strikes of life.
This is the essence that I caught through the years in her four previous movies, so different among them, if it hadn’t been for that prevailing feeling of “unbearable lightness”; this was the emptiness that I expected “Bling Ring” would create, in a new variant.
The expectation of this new variant is what led me to put up even with Coppola’s fifth movie: what should I imagine after the dizzying despair in “The virgin suicides”; after the exclusive affection in “Lost in translation”; after the melancholy and the coolness in “Marie Antoinette”; after the volcanic gentleness in “Somewhere”?
What I found is the most and the less expected, at the same time: nothingness.
I couldn’t but agree with the ones who told me that I would have seen a movie without heroes, a story of boredom and degradation. After all, this is the real nature of the story of five kids from Los Angeles, who have fun by robbing the houses of famous people and partying with what traditionally comes with the words “fame” and “power”, alcohol and drugs at the top of the list.
“Bling Ring” is a film shot with the flatness of a documentary, or better yet, an interrogation; not a single judging voice intervenes to reassure us of our morality, so different from the main charachters’ one, they who simply pass in front of the camera, without actually comunicate themselves to the ones who are watching them. It looks like watching an endless newscast, in which there are always the same five faces of ghosts telling who they are, and they are overexposed for their own choice, inconsistent because of the tragedy in which the adolescence can turn into.
And behind this inconsistence the precipice of nihilism opens up, a youth which wants to erase itself, conforming to the glittering rigor of adult world.
Adolescence for Marc, Rebecca, Nicki, Sam and Chloe is not a moment of life through which they want to discover themselves, but from which they want to get uncovered; they want to tear the clothes of awkwardness, naivety and dissatisfaction typical of their age, to cover up succinctly with designer clothes stolen from the wardrobe of stars.
And it is the rebellion against this incompleteness to deprive them of their authenticity and hopelessly throw them in the petty world of adults, in which the such wished fame is gained paying it with loneliness, conformism and the exaltation of those crimes that have soiled the innocence and sweetness of adolescence forever.
But the abyss of nothingness opens up under the feet of players even deeper, both before and after the prison sentence: a sinister warning of this total self-denial is the doll-gaze with which Rebecca admires herself in front of one of her victims’ mirror, forgetting that she occupies her place in the world, hypnotized only by her light and impalpable reflection; and then, after the sentence, there are Nicki’s television appearances, her interviews and her new blog, in which the only surviving and fed image is the one of the little criminal girl, built up by the media.
I automatically linked the small, golden world of “Bling Ring” to the paintings of the Sixties by David Hockney, an English artist of the most successful in contemporary art.
In that period of his life, Hockney painted many scenes of life in the luxurious homes of Beverly Hills.
Despite being home scenes, the real stars are not the inhabitants of the houses, but the buildings, the furniture, the blinding light of Californian sun.
People are reduced to annoying ornaments, obstacles to that light, which was designed just to enlight the walls and water in the pools; in these paintings an abyss in which one could get lost is missing, you can’t see the ocean, there are only pools in which you can’t even sink, but just reach the bottom.
In these supposed paradises of bliss and leisure shadows disappear, as if they have been erased by the spotlights, under whose eye the whole life of people falls.
It’s the same light which blinds the charachters of “Bling Ring”, and it attracts them until it burns them, until it reduces them to lived things, instead of living beings.
Here is revealed the new variant of the “unbeareable lightness” of the adolescence according to Sofia Coppola: it’s the variant of a blast into nothingness, of self-canceling that starts from banality and explodes like an atomic bomb.
I consider “Bling Ring” as a work of incredible intelligence and awareness by the director of adolescence, coming maybe right when she is learning to know better the phisiognomy of adulthood; this fifth movie, so unexpected and “aseptic”, forced me to look out and throw myself in the gully of nihilism without judging, making me realize how adolescence is not always an age of inner richness and fragile beauty, but can take the form of a terrific and dry tragedy, protected by a sinister twinkle from which nobody is ever completely safe.