In theory, I like filmmaker Sofia Coppola. But in reality, I’ve only liked one of her movies. And that’s LOST IN TRANSLATION. I absolutely loved it when it came out 10 years ago (holy shit! What it that long ago?). I watched it last year for the first time since I saw it in the theater, and although I still liked it, I didn’t enjoy it as much. It’s still decent, if not something special. Her first film, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, had moments of brilliance, but didn’t work as a whole for me. MARIE ANTOINETTE was an interesting misfire. I never did see her last film, SOMEWHERE I’ll get to it someday. So, with her latest film, THE BLING RING, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away.
The movie is based on some true events. The Bling Ring was a group of High School kids who broke into celebrities houses and stole a bunch of shit. The main focus of the story is on Marc, an awkward teen who desperately wants to be liked. A skinny, snobby bitch named Rebecca is intrigued by him and immediately approaches him to hang out. The two quickly become friends and also break into Paris Hilton’s house. At first, it’s kind of a joke, but then they actually take a couple of things. They do this a few more times before they get some more friends to join them like Nicki (Emma Watson) and Sam, whose mother (Leslie Mann) is kind of like a self-help guru, which of course means that they’re rebellious. Shocker! There’s also another superficial bitch named Chloe. Together they rob a bunch of celebs (like Rachel Bilson and Lindsey Lohan) before they get caught. THE. END.
I wish I could say that behind the premise, there is a lot of deep meanings to be found or interesting characterizations. But that would be a big fat lie! This movie is flat-out boring! The friends get together, say things to each other like “Hey.”, “Nice hat”, “Those shoes would look good on you”, and “Hey”. There is nothing even remotely compelling about these characters. In fact, they’re as equally as superficial and shallow as the celebs that they’re robbing. Maybe that was the point, but either way it doesn’t make for compelling cinema. It’s a snoozefest. Seriously, the movie consists of nothing more than the 5 kids breaking into house after house as they take expensive shirts and shoes. None of this is done with the least amount of satire or fun. After the 8th time they do this, it becomes a bit repetitive.
The acting…. it’s kind of a okay. Israel Broussard definitely has the look of an awkward teenager, but his performance is awkward too. Also, the movie is not interested in finding out who he (or anyone for that matter) is. There are hints that he’s struggling with his sexuality, but also hints that he has a crush on Rebecca. Katie Chang has an intriguing quality about her as Rebecca, but unfortunately most of her line reading is stiff. Emma Watson probably has the most lively performance here as a spoiled brat, but her character isn’t well drawn. Taissa Farmiga is pretty good as Sam. I did like her in a scene when she was waving a gun around at her friends, which hinted at a darker side to her personality, but that’s quickly forgotten about. Claire Julien as Chloe is about as wooden as the tree outside my window. Leslie Mann gives a fun, if one-dimensional performance as Nicki’s mother.
Coppola’s direction is, not surprisingly, low-key. That’s fine. I don’t mind this approach. There are some nice long shots as the camera follows the kids as they break into houses. But the pacing is not good. It’s only 90 minutes but it almost felt like an hour longer. This moves very slowly. I think with the right material, this approach would be good, but for the nature of this story, I felt it to be all wrong. The script is probably the weakest element here. This should have been a biting black comedy/satire, but it’s just boring. The movie doesn’t have anything interesting to say about society or its characters. The only thing lively about the movie was the super loud and bold title sequence, which suggested that the movie was going to be fun….. it’s not.
I don’t like picking on the little guys. I want independent pictures to succeed. But this was kind of a slog to sit through. I’m not sure what Coppola was going for here. Whatever she was trying to do, it doesn’t work. It’s about as insightful as Paris Hilton’s underwear. ★★ (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language including some brief sexual references.
– Running time: 1hr 30min.