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'Warrior' Actor Carlos Miranda Joins Sofia Coppola's 'The Bling Ring' Plus Details On The Script

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 22, 2012 11:57 AM
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While most of us on staff were far from fans of Sofia Coppola's last picture "Somewhere" (a film that does have its defenders, nevertheless), the filmmaker is so gifted, and has enough goodwill from her earlier efforts, that we're more than happy to follow her wherever she's going. And in the last few weeks, filming got underway on her latest, "The Bling Ring."

For the first time, Coppola's covering a contemporary true-life story, telling the tale of the so-called Bling Ring, or the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch, a group of L.A. teens who stole as much as $3 million worth of jewelery, cash and designer goods from the houses of celebrities like Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Audrina Partridge and Rachel Bilson back in 2008 and 2009.

Coppola's assembled an intriguing cast, led by Emma Watson, "American Horror Story" star  Taissa Farmiga, Judd Apatow's other half Leslie Mann ("Knocked Up") and newcomers Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Pfister (daughter of Christopher Nolan's DoP Wally) and Georgia Rock, along with Carlos Miranda (Tito in "Warrior") who Variety reported a couple of days back had joined the cast.

As it happened, just as Miranda came on board, we came into possession of Coppola's (typically brief, at only 80 pages) script for the project, and we thought we'd take a quick read to see what we can expect from the project. And to put it simply: it's a Sofia Coppola film, for better or worse, examining empty lives of wealth and privilege, just as "Lost In Translation," "Marie Antoinette" and "Somewhere" all did.

But thanks to the real-life tale, it's also got something more. The script opens (after a knowing quote from Nicole Ritchie's Twitter page) in media res, with the gang breaking into a Hollywood mansion, followed by indicators of their future arrest, and glimpses of interviews by the teens with journalists after the fact. This structure runs throughout, and other than changing the names of the central characters, Coppola seems to have stuck closely to how the true events unfolded (if not necessarily the biographical facts), and it lends the script an almost-docu-drama feel throughout.

Also worth noting is that while Watson has widely been reported to be the lead, that's not quite accurate. The entry-point character for the audience is Marc (Broussard), a fashion-obsessed (and seemingly gay, although it's never stated outright) 16-year-old kid who starts at a new high school (based on Burglar Bunch member Nick Prugo), and quickly falls in with a Korean-American girl named Rebecca. It's Rebecca (a character based on the real life figure Rachel Lee, and will presumably be played by newcomer Katie Chang) who's the ringleader of the group, and arguably the female lead, while we suspect that Watson's playing Nicki, a pretty teen with an ex-Playboy model mother (to be played by Mann) who schools her two daughters on the importance of finding fame.

"Wanna be thug" Chloe (possibly Farmiga's part) and Nicki's boyfriend, the Mexican bouncer Rob (presumably Miranda's role), fall in with the gang, and soon they're scouring gossip sites for the whereabouts of their favorite celebs, breaking and entering when they're away and taking clothes, cash, naked photos and even a gun (from Brian Austin Green, of all people), using their spoils to finance a hard-partying, coke-snorting lifestyle, with little regard for the possibility of getting caught.

On one hand, this is a world we've seen Coppola tackle many times before, and it's hard not to wish that she'd found a more substantial piece of material like "The Virgin Suicides," especially in the middle section, where the burglaries and materialism porn becomes a little repetitive (although that's partly the point). But on the other, Coppola's found a new way to approach the subject, bringing in issues of class and the poisonous effect of a vacuous culture, and there's a neatly satirical touch to proceedings (Mann's character's first line is telling her daughter "Girls! Time for your Adderall!), while still retaining a sympathetic, even-handed approach that feels vaguely reminiscent of Gus Van Sant's "Elephant."

Ultimately, Coppola, even more so than most filmmakers, uses her script as a skeleton, and much of what makes her films work (or otherwise) comes in the execution. With a cast so green, the movie will really hang on how well they can pull it off, but if nothing else, having Hermione Granger do a scantily-clad dance with a gun will get the attention of the mainstream media (the film is another smart choice for Watson, who looks like she could be a real force post-Potter). Things are certainly looking promising, all in all, and we're excited to see the finished film: with shooting underway, we could end up seeing this before the year is out.

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  • richard crawford | February 25, 2013 2:41 PMReply

    Sofia Coppola is the most gifted, original film maker of my life time. Highly influenced by European directors, like Truffaut, Antonioni, and Godard, Coppola found her own voice at the very beginning with THE VIRGIN SUICIDES right through to SOMEWHERE which is her masterpiece. (the ending is right out of the I Ching). I can't wait to see THE BLING RING. Coppola is an American Original...a very cool, very authentic story teller.

  • Sam | March 23, 2012 8:09 PMReply

    I love Sofia Coppola because she is, first and foremost, a brilliantly observational story teller. Her films portray a particular message and they do it extraordinarily well. She is, in my opinion, what of the great directors of this century, right up there with Francis, Scorsese, Tarantino, Burton and Ross. The Virgin Suicides is one of my absolute favourites and for good reason. TBR is a smart choice for both Sofia and Emma, who needs to break out of the Potter image (this article is an example of that, "Hermione Granger do scantily clad dance with a gun"). I think Perks and TBR will do that very well, especially if they both come out within three or so months of one another - which this article suggests, "seeing this before the year is out". With a fairly unknown cast - with the exception of Watson and Mann - even if it flops (I doubt it) they will have gained an important accolade to their careers. If the film succeeds in portraying its message effectively ala TVS then all of them are in for a great awards season. I could see a Best Director, Best Film and poss. Best Supporting for Emma come Oscar season should this film do what it means to.

  • A | March 22, 2012 9:36 PMReply

    I don't know if that Adderall line is satirical. I think Alexis Neier's mom actually said that on "Pretty Wild."

  • Chris | March 23, 2012 12:00 AM

    That is why the way Coppola's presenting it is satirical.

  • Jane | March 22, 2012 4:19 PMReply

    I actually think Taissa Farmiga is playing the part of Leslie Mann's youngest daughter, Nicki's younger sister. And Claire Alys Julien (like it says on IMDb) is playing Chloe.

  • Dan | March 22, 2012 4:30 PM

    Yeah, you're right.

  • Kaalibasis | March 22, 2012 2:18 PMReply

    If this ends up like "Pretty Wild"- anything, even close- Coppola and Watson's respective careers are OVER. I hated that show, that girl, her mother- everything... it was horrible.

  • Chris | March 22, 2012 3:05 PM

    It's supposed to be a satire of these teens to expose the prevalence of materialism and celebrity culture. So no, it will not present a straightforward, serious portrayal of them.

  • Nik Grape | March 22, 2012 1:58 PMReply

    Sofia Coppola's films tend to really get overrated. Her best is still The Virgin Suicides honestly. Lost in Translation was average and was praised to high heavens as some sort of modern masterpiece. Marie Anntoinette was a disaster. I didn't see Somewhere but I'm not really dieing to either. Meh, I'm so indefferent to her, you can report to say she decided to stop directing movies and concentrate on becoming a full time papparazzi and I wouldn't be phased one bit.

  • Yod | March 22, 2012 11:44 PM

    Well if you don't like her films I guess she should stop making them. Damn anyone who makes movies people other than you might enjoy.

  • Dan | March 22, 2012 4:31 PM

    See, I disagree with that also. I love that Coppola chose to tell the story in the form of a moodpiece/character study with nonverbal communication. Also, Dunst is my acting win for 2006!

  • N. Grape | March 22, 2012 4:00 PM

    Dan, hi, i wasn't referring to the mainstream when I said she's overrated. I rarely give the mainstream any thought whatsoever. Thankfully, she does make unique and personal films in an attempt for them to function as art forms. But there is nothing spectacular in that filmmaking, or the stories (the heart of each film, surely) that raises the bar. Marie Antoinette's decor and anachronistic (word of the day!!) nature is great, but that doesn't make the narrative and acting any better. All kinds of films resonate with all kinds of people, to me hers don't. Such is life.

  • Dan | March 22, 2012 3:09 PM

    If anything, she is completely underrated by the mainstream. Critics (according to MetaCritic) have given positive reviews to all four of her films but their contemplative and feminine atmopsheres seem to make people diver their attention to films that require less thought. She obviously makes very unique and personal films that are not supposed to simply entertain, but function as art forms...which is what film really is all about. Luckily, people like Ebert have grasped this and write very meaningful reviews about her work.

    As for Marie-Antoinette being a disaster, it was actually taught in my film class last semester by a very well-known professor because of its anachronistics and unique atmosphere. My point is that you can't sum her films up by saying they are overrated or disasters when they resonate with people on such an individual and varying level.

  • Kaalibasis | March 22, 2012 2:19 PM

    I agree, TVS is her best work to date. Somewhere is alright... the best part is Elle Fanning.

  • Chris | March 22, 2012 1:03 PMReply

    Thank you so much for the review! I wanted to question this part: "And to put it simply: it's a Sofia Coppola film, for better or worse, examining empty lives of wealth and privilege." I haven't read the script but, judging from the official synopsis and this article, it seems quite the opposite of her usual approach. It feels more like a criticism/observation of my generation's obsession with materialism and celebrity culture, a perspective from outside the bubble, looking in. Her other films focus more on the actual day-to-day lives of celebrites, but this film feels more at home with the suburbia cult films. Even The Virgin Suicides lent the five sisters a celebrity status with the neighbors/school boys perpetually watching their every move. As another user pointed out, Coppola is a visual storyteller and the fact that the script is shorter really does not mean anything until after production (Lost in Translation's script was only 75 pages...and it won the Oscar). I just wanted to start a dialogue on this if you guys cared to respond. Thanks again for the information, particularly the fact that the film will function more as an ensemble effort! I really hope the newcomers can pull their roles off...

  • BEF | March 22, 2012 12:06 PMReply

    A review of Sofia Coppola script doesn't seem totally necessary, as you say, it's a skeleton and the images will tell half of the story. Call me a big fan. I think Marie Antoinette is one of the top 10 films of the last decade (moreso than Lost in Translation, although that is a great one, too). I wasn't a big fan of Somewhere and, like Wes Anderson, I'd like to see her tread new territory, but this one feels like it could be a comedic approach to her view of privilege and could be rife for good ad libs. I'm excited. A new cast, too! Good to know the possible views, though, thanks!

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