Review - The Bling Ring


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Review - The Bling Ring
The Kids Aren't Alright!
The Bling Ring (2013)
Sofia Coppola
Emma Watson, Katie Chang
Release Date:
Age Rating:
Stealing from the rich to give to themselves…

The Bling Ring is based on a series of burglaries committed by a gang of teenagers in 2008 and 2009 in California. The group targeted celebrities - including Paris Hilton, Megan Fox, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom - and made off with $3 million worth of jewels, cash, clothes and more during dozens of raids, often on homes that were unlocked and unguarded.
These youths were the subject of plenty of media attention at the time of their arrest with one 2010 article in Vanity Fair called The Suspects Wore Louboutins (read it here) by Nancy Jo Sales catching the attention of filmmaker Sofia Coppola.

Coppola has made an interesting career for herself in the shadow of famous father Francis Ford; including The Virgin Suicides and the highly successful Lost in Translation. Most of her films have dealt with the notion ofcelebrity and she finds a new, sinister, angle on the theme here.

The film itself mostly revolves around a group of materialistic youngsters wandering into other people’s homes and stealing their stuff, all the while snapping photos of themselves with serious duck face and calling things cute.They’re utterly vacuous, lacking any real human characteristics or feeling and completely devoid of any remorse for their actions. They’ve grown up in society and a system which enables them to do whatever they want, without repercussions, and they use that freedom to commit terrible invasions of privacy and flaunt the law. Just because they feel like it.

It’s a familiar message; young people are out of control, their access to the private lives of celebrities is creepy and we should all look down on them from a great and imperious height. Except the film doesn’t - arguably Coppola’s take merely glamorises the deed, quickly glossing over the legal proceedings and never pausing to condemn any of their actions or even show any characters in the film reacting in a negative way.

Maybe she’s trying to present the reality of the situation - that these kids served their supposedly year long sentences in a mere 30 days and got off otherwise scot-free. But when you’re presenting these activities in an entertaining light (as she does) some context or commentary seems like an important element to omit.

In terms of performances, there’s little enough to the characters to really comment. Brit Emma Watson certainly works hard on her accent and mannerisms, presented a dead eyed, lipgloss heavy version of Alexis Neiers (here named Nicki Moore). Though the irony of the real Alexis consulting on the film seems to be lost on the filmmakers.

Sadly, Watson herself is sidelined for much of the picture, with the slim plot leaning instead on token boy Israel Broussard and Katie Chang. He’s somewhat the point of view of the audience, in that he’s not always entirely odious, while she encourages everyone to be as awful as possible. Broussard is fine if a little dull but Chang is a waste of screen time - with no presence and a shaky command of the most basic inflection.

Do you need to know that Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst cameo as themselves or that the production filmed for two weeks in Hilton’s actual home? Probably not but there’s little enough else going on that you’ll have time to ponder if Ms. H actually has that much crap in her home.

The Bling Ring is an empty film about empty people, hollow shells gorging themselves vicariously on celebrity to give their sheltered and perfect lives some sense of excitement. But without any attempt to contextualise or condemn their actions, the movie ultimately runs the risk of turning them into the stars they think they are.

5 Stars
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