The Bling Ring Directed by: Sofia Coppola Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: June 21, 2013 (Chicago)
PLOT: A group of California teenagers (Chang, Broussard, Watson, Julien, Farmiga) break into the houses of their favorite celebrities and take their stuff.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you liked Coppola's previous Somewhere, prepare for the same type of cold pacing, but without the whole contemplative element. If you think breaking into Lindsay Lohan's private residence sounds like fun, then yes, this movie is certainly for you.
Instead of focusing on paparazzi firing flashes at the rich and famous, The Bling Ring is about those affected by the radiation of these flashing lights, the people who are convinced the ultimate existence in the world belongs to that of a celebrity. Like paparazzi, the film's title group makes a living off the same type of invasion, this time taking the mentality a step further. They break into the houses, and simply take things, with little hesitation or malice. Neither the thieves, nor the victims, consider the idea of a camera meant to insure property security.
Despite the perverse presentation this movie wants to make about celebrity with its story, The Bling Ring doesn't make for itself a compelling center plot, even if this true story did play out with the same avoidance of home security systems. Her centerpiece robberies are repetitive and soon shed the shocking taboo that originally makes for a compelling concept.
With such ballooning events, The Bling Ring barely scratches the film's high fashion exterior, avoiding the choice of making fresher statements about the accessibility of celebrity. From this film, one can only take away two big ideas: celebrity houses can be found on Google, and the more accessible a person is to the world, the less likely they are to have security in their house, even if you've trespassed on their property previously.
With such hesitation to dig into its fertile territory, Coppola's ugliest accessory in this free bling circus is comedy, which plays out like the forced demand for attention that celebrity itself is shown to be. Watson, the most recognizable actress in the group, is designated as the comedic mouthpiece of this movie, as she is given specific scenes that play off like weak comedy with little substance. Though she only plays a secondary role in the film to the acts committed by the title group, Watson is given moments to stand as the movie's embodiment of young celebrity, as raised in the movie by her mother (Mann) to be very conscious of her image, etc. Watson's attempt at parody in these desperate moments of satire is either the concoction of a really unbelievable person, or the arrangement of an exaggerated character who loses her inspired edge and becomes a simple device for laughs and poking fun at the celebrity mentality.
As stated by Broussard's character, "America has this sick fascination with a 'Bonnie and Clyde' thing." This is something the movie itself believes about its audience, and wants to provide for its primary demographic of Perez Hilton or TMZ readers. Both social powerhouses that are like celebrity's own NSA specialize in the junk foods that drive the appetite for the movie's center group. (Hilton's defining web headline even reads like a recipe that could feed an entire Bling Ring: "Celebrity gossip juicy celebrity rumors Hollywood gossip blog.") While the ideas of Bling Ring are in place, Coppola uses this tale to sculpt a hollow rumination on the accessibility of celebrity, with lackluster robbery scenes that play out more like surprise fashion shows (narrated by a plethora of "Oh my gods" and "Shut up") more than introspective representations of its theme. The Bling Ring loses its larger effect because it feels primarily made for those who think these crimes might actually a good idea.
This film comes after Coppola's Somewhere, a mesmerizing movie with enough confidence in its story of select spare parts that it could rely on polarizing slow pacing and defining visual beauty to carry the entire weight of the film. In comparison, Bling Ring is a less chewable take on the mental effect of celebrity, albeit with the same cold pacing, too ready to soak up the bling most of all.
It's as if Coppola saw the artful potential about the perversity in these TMZ headlines, but wanted to share her opinions on such a complicated issue as directly as possible. She distractingly omits the larger logical details, which make for flimsy artistic statements. What about security cameras in the house? Or DNA or fingerprint samples? Coppola's boldest artistic stroke is that she makes it seems like Paris Hilton has never even considered putting home security on her private property.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10