Has Sofia Coppola Made a Found-Footage Spring Breakers?

Slate's Culture Blog
March 8 2013 12:59 PM

Has Sofia Coppola Made a Found-Footage Spring Breakers?

Emma Watson in the teaser for Bling Ring
Has Sofia Coppola gone found-footage?

Still from the teaser for Bling Ring.

At first glance, Bling Ring looks like a less sensational version of Harmony Korine’s upcoming Spring Breakers. Both movies feature onetime child stars playing young women who turn to burglary to fuel a party-forever lifestyle. Swap Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens for Emma Watson, switch out Skrillex for Sleigh Bells (here it’s “Crown on the Ground”), and exchange neon bikinis for designer handbags, and you’ve got this teaser for Bling Ring.

But there are a few big reasons Bling Ring seems poised to stand apart. First of all, it’s written and directed by Sofia Coppola, who has been responsible for some of the best cinematic portraits of young women in recent years—especially of the privileged sort seen here—in movies like The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette.

It’s also based on a true story, one that even the New York Times noted was bound for a movie adaptation from the beginning. (The story of the “Bling Ring” also became a Lifetime movie in 2011.) In 2008, Paris Hilton’s home was robbed of $2 million in jewelry, cash, and clothes. Soon others—including Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Orlando Bloom, and Ashley Tisdale (the villain of High School Musical)—also reported that their houses had been burgled, leaving them short of hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury goods. As if that wasn’t enough, the teen thieves used sites like TMZ and celebrityaddressaerial.com to scope out celebrities’ homes. Plus, as one lawyer put it, these criminals looked “like the cast of Twilight.” After their scores, they’d hit up Hollywood clubs like Le Deux and Miyagi’s, just as we see in the teaser above.

The teaser also hints at a possible surprise in Coppola’s approach: If we’re to trust the file names and time codes running along the bottom of the screen, it’s all found footage, just like so many recent horror movies , cop movies, superhero movies, and even another teensploitation film. Of course, it’s hard to imagine how some of these shots could have been caught on tape, as is so often the case with these films, and surely many moviegoers are tired of this trope. We can’t be sure whether the time codes will run throughout the movie, as they do here. But who knows. The choice does make some thematic sense: As one lawyer put it, the Bling Ring seemed to enjoy the cameras.

Update, March 11, 2013: There won't be any found-footage Sofia Coppola movie after all. A representative from Bling Ring's U.S. distributor, A24, confirms that the "leaked" teaser above was an unfinished version. The time codes and filenames will not appear in the final film, nor will it be in the style of a found-footage movie. Here's the final version:

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Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.