An empty film with shallow characters, this is Sofia Coppola’s worst hour as a filmmaker.
Dir. Sofia Coppola
2013 | USA | Crime/Drama | 90 mins | 1.85:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language including some brief sexual references
Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann
Plot: Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.
Awards: Nom. for Un Certain Regard Award (Cannes)
Subject Matter: Moderate – Celebrity Culture, Fame
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 24 Sep 2013
The consolation is that Sofia Coppola could probably do no worse for her next feature, because The Bling Ring is a terrible film. It is not shockingly bad to the extent that leaving the theater might be the best (and only) option, but it is a very empty film with little to cheer for.
If Lost in Translation (2003) was her finest hour as a writer-director, after her promising debut with The Virgin Suicides (1999), then The Bling Ring could just be her worst one as a filmmaker.
Centering on a group of youths who robs the houses of big celebrities when they are away, The Bling Ring is loosely based on true events, inspired by a Vanity Fair article “The Suspect Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales.
Here, four girls and a guy track the whereabouts of famous names like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Kirsten Dunst, and spend much of their time in their luxurious homes deciding on which branded watch or classy shoes to steal. No matter, just take as many as possible.
“Girls, time for your Adderall!”
Emma Watson, whom I feel is miscast here, is the most recognizable name in the film, but this is not her movie. She plays a supporting role to Katie Chang and Israel Broussard, whose characters Rebecca and Marc are the ringleaders of this ‘crime syndicate’.
The performances of the cast are adequate at best, but they are bogged down by Coppola’s scant treatment of the characters. Characterization is at a premium here and the characters are very shallowly-written with few dramatic scenes that help us to identify and be connected to them.
Materialism and the desire to feel rich and beautiful are what have been inflicted on the psyche of these youths, perhaps as a result of obsession with celebrity culture. Not sure if the shallow treatment of the characters are supposed to be reflective of their shallow-mindedness, but I doubt Coppola wanted that effect.
Still, The Bling Ring is to some extent a critique of celebrity culture, though it rarely does so in an emotionally resonant way, nor does it set your brain thinking.
It is beautifully shot though and the choice of music is not regrettable. In some way, there is a countercultural vibe going on – of juvenile delinquency and lawlessness, but ultimately the status quo is maintained. And then you emerge from a shallow pool unsatisfied.