Review: The Bling Ring

Midway through The Bling Ring — a crime drama about celebrity-obsessed teens breaking into their idols’ homes and stealing their property — I still wasn’t getting the point.

Bling Ring (2013)Katie Chang and Israel BroussardAm I supposed to work up some measure of sympathy for Lindsey Lohan, Megan Fox, Orlando Bloom and Paris Hilton when a couple dozen of their thousands of sunglasses, shoes or Rolexes are stolen? Or am I supposed to empathize with bratty teens who want the finer things in life without working hard for them like their idols whose main claim to fame was leaking sex tapes?

Ultimately, it seems Director/Screenwriter Sofia Coppola couldn’t come up with much of an answer either as she offers an indulgent, dull effort that offers little insight or reason for its existence.

It’s a bit disappointing considering Coppola actually has a fascinating true story ripe for exploring.

the-bling-ring-emma-watson-israel-broussard-and-katie-changAfter transferring to a new high school, Marc (Israel Broussard) is quickly befriended by Rebecca (Katie Chang), an attractive, outgoing girl. From a social ladder standpoint, Rebecca would have little to gain by making a newcomer her BFF. Marc soon learns his new pal has a bit of a rebellious streak as she checks unlocked cars for wallets and purses then uses her ill-begotten gains on extravagant shopping sprees.

Marc starts hanging with the rest of Rebecca’s crew — Chloe (Claire Julien, The Dark Knight Rises), Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Nicki (Emma Watson, This is the End) — partying in VIP, getting high and seemingly having the time of his life. Coppola shoots the club scenes like they’re parties worth standing in line for with an energy and style lacking through most of the film.

Using Facebook and Twitter, Marc learns where some of their celebrity heroes live; information Rebecca uses to determine whose lavish mansion is empty. Soon, she enlists the rest of the gang in on the fun — stealing from the stars, partying and posting pictures of their new swag online.

the-bling-ring-emma-watson-tongueThe film quickly plateaus here as Coppola gets lost in a loop of having the gang rob and party with no other development. While all are solid, the actors hit a wall as they’re given little to do with their characters. Watson offers the best performance aided in part because the celebrity-in-training ditz she portrays is so far removed from her real-life persona.

But with little real access to the characters, the film becomes less a matter of what are they going to do next and more why should we care?

While the film is disappointing, the same can’t be said for the soundtrack, which features tone appropriate “look at me!!” hits from Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne and more thoughtful pieces on the fleeting pursuit of fame like Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” and Phoenix’s “Bankrupt.”

And the engaging cinematography by Harris Savides, (who died midway through shooting), and Christopher Blauvelt, at least assures the film looks great.

Like its raunchier big sister, Spring Breakers, the film gets so lost in focusing on the antics of girls behaving badly that it never moves beyond it.

the-bling-ring-claire-julien-katie-chang-israel-broussard-and-emma-watsonCoppola doesn’t attempt to rationalize why the characters act so self-entitled.

There’s no revelatory scene to explain any of their actions or to dig into what drives a person to so deeply covet celebrity status they’d rob from their “heroes.”

Maybe you could stretch some deeper meaning out of the film, surmising that Coppola wanted to make as vapid and empty a movie as her subjects and their inspiration.

That’s great for a Film & Society term paper, but it doesn’t exactly make for a riveting movie.

 Rating: 3 out of 10

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