The Bling Ring (2013)
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writers: Sofia Coppola (screenplay) Nancy Jo Sales (based on the Vanity Fair article “The Suspect Wore Louboutins”)
Actors: Kate Chang, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann
The story of the group that robbed from the rich and gave to…themselves. Louder Than War’s Tom Eldred writes…
Only a few days ago I visited the cinema to see World War Z for the first time. The film was so “meh” that I wasn’t even slightly compelled to put my thoughts on it into words. The same cannot be said for Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. Based on the real life events of a group of Californian teens who track the whereabouts of celebrities to rob their houses at opportune moments. It is difficult to say just how accurately the film depicts the true story but regardless, it makes for very interesting viewing.
Sofia Coppola, despite her sketchy record as an actress, has made some truly exceptional films, most notably the Oscar-winning Lost In Translation. At the heart of that film, and most of her others, have been brilliantly written and compelling characters. Fortunately the same can be said for The Bling Ring, which boasts a strong ensemble of immensely despisable characters (other than Leslie Mann’s wonderfully ignorant portrayal of the “modern” parent). In a way it is refreshing to watch a film without a single character that you’re rooting for or hoping everything works out for. It makes for an interesting character study, a glimpse at the more extreme and dangerous side of the celebrity obsessed culture that has taken over certain parts of this generation, even if it is a little difficult at times to believe someone could be as blind and downright ignorant as any of the “Bling Ring”. Unfortunately this may also be the film’s biggest problem. With nothing to identify with there is little emotional connection to be found within the film and that will leave certain viewers lost and despondent.
No review of this film would be a complete without a mention of arguably it’s biggest star. Building on her impressive turn as Sam in last year’s indie-hit The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Emma Watson plays Nicki; arguably the most blind, superficial and obviously stupid of the group. Just about as far from Hermione Granger as possible, short of being blue and living on Pandora, it is another indication of how good an actress Watson has the potential to be, even if shaking off the robes of Hogwarts may take a little longer in audiences eyes’.
Katie Chang’s portrayal of Rebecca also deserves a nod. Lumbered with some of the more irritating dialogue in the film (including an overuse of the word “fine”), she pushes past this to be the most interesting of the whole group with her cold and nonchalant attitude towards their acts, best illustrated in the scene where the police arrive on her doorstep at her father’s home in Las Vegas.
With it’s plastic and fickle characters, The Bling Ring ultimately struggles to create any sense of depth or weight, which might very well be the point Sofia Coppola is making. And whilst it is not on a par with some of her other works, the film leaves much to be admired. The scene depicting the robbery of Audrina Partridge’s home is creatively shot and is a particular highlight and makes The Bling Ring a good alternative for those seeking something different in the season of big-budget blockbusters.