The Bling Ring
Other // R // June 14, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted June 13, 2013
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Writer/director Sofia Coppola is a renowned name by a large amount of people in the filmmaking industry. A few years have passed since Somehwere, but once the news of her upcoming feature was released, it spread like wildfire. The Bling Ring takes an interesting perspective, although it's certainly rough around the edges. Fortunately, Coppola's genuine interest in the subject matter of American youth is clear. This ultimately reflects upon the audience, as her use of parallelism is engrossing. After the insane amount of hype that has been surrounding this motion picture, it didn't manage to entirely meet my expectations. However, it remains to be a solid crime drama with plenty to discuss. The story is inspired by actual events, although it serves a larger purpose than simply telling the story. It wishes to place a mirror in front of the celebrity-obsessed culture that has consumed countless individuals.

The narrative follows a group of fame-obsessed teenagers who utilize the internet in order to find when celebrities will be out of town. This provides an opportunity for the group to rob their homes. Rebecca (Katie Chang) is the ringleader, as she constantly encourages the group to continue stealing from celebrities. Marc (Israel Broussard), Nicki (Emma Watson), Chloe (Claire Julien), and Sam (Taissa Farmiga) find themselves immersed in this behavior. They ultimately decide to join Rebecca's "shopping sprees," which drastically changes their lives forever.

The "protagonists" in The Bling Ring aren't very likable, and writer/director Sofia Coppola recognizes this. Instead of trying to make us feel sympathetic towards them, she simply wants us to recognize how so many people are obsessed with celebrities and materialistic things. This narrative conveys how far this group of teenagers is willing to go in order to steal high-end accessories. This is an exaggerated example of how our society can become. Since the majority of the feature is told from Marc's perspective, we're provided with direct dialogue from one of the characters. He's definitely the most genuine out of the bunch, as he clearly understands the errors of his ways. Unfortunately, the remainder of the roles are empty. While the personas are clear, they aren't given any true personality that would make any of them stand out. The "too cool for school"-type dialogue doesn't necessarily help, since it sometimes begs for some laughs.

The second half of the running time is primarily filled with the group breaking into celebrity houses. After sneaking into places such as Paris Hilton's mansion and Megan Fox's desirable home, the film displays how excited these teenagers get over clothes and purses. The Bling Ring is never dull, but these scenes become a little bit repetitive. None of the break-ins aid in developing any of the characters or even provide any worthwhile conversations. Instead, these scenes are composed of the group's obvious fascination with high-end fashion. Even though this movie appears to be tough, it definitely has a soft spot. Marc's character delivers the most honest moments to be found, as he tells the reporter the truth regarding the events. Since he's the only person we learn anything about, it's certainly something to hold onto.

One of the picture's biggest strengths is its understanding of pop culture. Some portions of the movie don't need to be on screen, as they are simply conveyed through Facebook status updates and photos. Since these social media platforms have become such a large part of our society, it makes sense for it to have a place in cinema. Writer/director Sofia Coppola understands how to utilize it tastefully. Fortunately, she never overdoes it, as The Bling Ring always feels incredibly relevant to our society. People all around the world want to live the lifestyle of being rich and famous, but we don't all succeed. This crime drama follows the destructive path that a group of teenager embark upon. It often appears as if they simply seek the rush that they receive from their "shopping sprees."

The actors in The Bling Ring vary when it comes to experience. While some have been in the industry from quite a few years, others are just getting started. Katie Chang delivers a decent-enough performance as Rebecca. Considering that this is one of her first representations, she does a solid job. Israel Broussard is relatively new to the acting scene, as well. However, this performance is clearly one of the most genuine to be found in this feature. Emma Watson is absolutely fantastic as Nicki, since she will most certainly make every person in the audience despise her character. This is a completely different role for Watson, but she pulled it off. Claire Julien receives the smallest amount of screen time out of the team. Her interactions with other teenagers are quite awkward. Taissa Farmiga is believable in the role of Sam. There are a few appearances that are quite welcome, such as Leslie Mann in the role of Nicki's mother, Laurie.

Even though Coppola's screenplay is flawed, her visuals are phenomenal. Many audiences will be expecting a picture with quick editing in order to create tension through the break-in sequences. However, the film maintains its calm demeanor. The tension itself is developed within the mind of the viewer, as it rarely needs to touch the screen. Coppola employs some intriguing camerawork, which will surely stick with you after the credits are done rolling. The deep color palette fits extremely well in the context of the motion picture. There are plenty of interesting ideas that are utilized through the visual structure.

The Bling Ring sometimes feels like a more mainstream version of Spring Breakers. They have similarities, especially when it comes to the social commentary. However, this movie didn't leave as much of an impression on me. With such a short running time, this crime drama is an extremely quick feature. It isn't ever boring in the slightest and Emma Watson is always a joy to have on screen. Fortunately, the film isn't what one would expect it to be, although the hype isn't entirely justified. The Bling Ring will leave some more satisfied than others, but it's worth seeing in order to see where you land. Recommended.

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