Sep 12, 2014

Review: The Bling Ring (2013)

The Bling Ring is film based on the real life criminal exploits of a group of California teens who were able to break into a bunch of celebrity homes and steal items like clothes, jewelry and cash all totaling up to $3 million in value. Apparently this happened over the course of practically a year from October 2008 to August 2009. Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr who was dating Bloom at the time, Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox who was dating Green at the time and Lindsay Lohan were the reported victims.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, it definitely sounds like an interesting project. This is my first Sofia C. movie embarrassingly enough. I should've seen Lost in Translation a long time ago, I know. Every time I write a review, it always seems like I got some big confession to make which is starting to get to me. Hope it ends soon because before I know it my film buff status is just going to continue to whittle away.

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Genre: biography, crime, drama
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Produced by: Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley, etc.
Written by: Sofia Coppola
Music by: Daniel Lopatin, Brian Reitzell
Running time: 90 minutes
Production company: American Zoetrope, NALA Films, Pathé Distribution, etc.
Distributed by: FilmNation Entertainment, A24, Alliance Films, etc.
Country: United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan
Language: English
Budget: $15,000,000
Box office: $19,145,732 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda, Gavin Rossdale, Stacy Edwards, G. Mac Brown, Marc Coppola, Janet Song, Annie Fitzgerald

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Synopsis


Marc Hall (Israel Broussard) arrives to a new school as the dreaded new kid. Not originally from L.A., he's easily picked out as "the new kid" and lightly ostracized. He's shy and he's had trouble in the past regarding anxiety so it looks like a pretty hopeless situation. He's befriended by Rebecca Ahn (Katie Chang) who helps him fit in and guides him towards appreciating fashion, the local nightlife as well as celebrity culture. Marc also gets towed along for the ride when it comes to Rebecca's more criminal endeavors like robbing unlocked parked cars. From then on, things spiral out of control when Rebecca's obsession with celebrities leads to even more thievery.

Review


It's pretty clear that Sofia Coppola has a real talent for filming. She's blessed with a family of movie makers who I'm sure were able to teach her a thing or two but all the same, Sofia deserves some credit. The mise-en-scène as a whole is well done. Paris Hilton gave Sofia Coppola permission to actually film in her house for the movie and what a treat those scenes are. It seems like every fashion designer is represented in The Bling Ring and the excess of L.A. is well on display. The 2008-2009 time period also looks convincing, down to the heavy use of Blackberry phones. The film also raises the question about how can people who are so famous and rich be so lax about security? Leaving a door unlocked when you intend to be away for an extended period of time? Wow.

The Bling Ring can be seen as a bit of a satire of L.A. excess and celebrity worshiping in general. Emma Watson's character Nicki is probably the best example of this. It's absolutely marvelous to see how full of herself her character really is. Her valley girl accent is well put on and I think she succeeds in rising above being a simple side show for the movie which I feared would be the case.

Marc Hall and Rebecca Ahn are the most explored characters though. Sadly, there wasn't enough exploration if you ask me. Marc and Rebecca's actions are explained through some cutting back and forth from an interview with a psychologist that fails to really reach a satisfying amount of depth. There could've been more, for Rebecca especially. Rebecca is the prime catalyst as to why these house break-ins happened and I don't think she's delved into enough here.

As a result of the failure to really go inside the characters' heads, The Bling Ring does at times feel like it's more style than substance. Celebrity house break-in scene followed by a partying scene. Rince, wash and repeat. The whole satirical nature of the movie comes across very easily but there's just a lack of any real character exposition. (Spoilers) For one thing, I would've really liked to see more involving Rebecca betraying Marc near the conclusion which would've been really juicy to see. (End Spoilers)

The Bling Ring is an interesting movie to be sure but falls short in terms of character exposition. It's definitely pretty to look at and it has some mild but all the same interesting social commentary. I also like the quiet satire of the L.A./valley girl celebrity-chasing culture that Sofia is able to get across. The young leads are effective in their roles but it's definitely Emma Watson who steals the show. With a great score and some sparkly energy, TBR is a pretty good watch.

Rating


6.5/10