The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen, and ultimately the fall of Versailles.
First, what this is: a re-creation of a series of actual robberies by spoiled rich high school girls of spoiled adult celebrities in the L.A. area. They do the crimes, they get caught. This is evident from the beginning with some interviews after the fact.
Second, what this is: nothing more than the above. That's the big big problem here. This feature length movie re-creates and re-creates.
We see these indifferent, superficial girls in house after house (and in Paris Hilton's house a lot), trying on clothes and jewelry and taking home whatever they want by the purse-load. And we see all the parties between, party after party. Some with drugs, some without, all with music and dancing and utter detachment from consequences and culpability.
I guess that's the point, to make visible this world and make clear how really repulsive such prettified, well dressed, fashion imitation girls can be. This is the territory of Lauren Greenfield's photographic essay in the book "Fast Forward," but with a very specific focus on this group of half a dozen girls (and one boy who is sort of sucked in by his willingness to fawn and give attention).
There is zero attention to really what makes these girls tick. A very slim attempt is made at showing they have no true education, and no acculturation beyond fashion magazines. But really, what are these girls about? Where are there jealousies, their aspirations, their sex lives, their doubts? The movie is as superficial as the subject, and for Sofia Coppola that's a real shame and inexcusable, as if she just got lazy. Not that making a movie like this is easy, but someone somewhere should have said, hey, look, this amounts to nothing at all.
Where are there comparables beyond Greenfield (whose book has its own flaw of making glorious what she apparently means to critique)? Larry Clark's "Kids" is one place to consider (or his other films, which deal with youth more disturbingly). Or maybe the even more horrible "Murder in Greenwich" which dealt with the East Coast version of spoiled kids losing their bearings (and at least created a plot you could follow with some curiosity).
Coppola has gone this direction before in "The Virgin Suicides" and there she created a semblance of depth. Not this time. And the spoiled title character in "Marie Antoinette" gave her at least a fascinating subject, which she layered up in really compelling ways. And to be sure this isn't "Lost in Translation" (her masterpiece) in any manner. These are all written and directed by Coppola.
If you are the type of person who recoils at the Paris Hilton antics, skip this movie. This is a bunch of wannabe Hiltons and you don't feel sorry for anyone, perpetrator or victim. You just hope it ends fast.
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