The sentiment of America’s growing obsession for the excess is boldly presented in neon-lit, synth-pop visuals and ‘liquid narrative’ in Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” Sofia Coppola, arguably one of the brightest filmmakers working today, crafts a film of similar sociological satire and bravery in film aesthetic in “The Bling Ring,” a story about a group of teenagers who thieve on famous celebrities. Where Korine’s outlandishly stylistic approach finds a quartet of innocuous-looking teenagers descent into their innermost darkness, Coppola’s approach is plainly cold, finding her characters emerge from their very shallowness, revealing their nuances only at the final moments of the film. It’s plaintively a mess, actually; one, I must say, am shocked to see coming from Coppola.
It all roots from the set of characters we are far and away to like. I can’t find any empathy for these bored teenagers; hence my cold, couldn’t-care-less reaction when shit hits the fan for them. I’m unable to understand the point of their doings. Are they seeking attention? Tired of the plainness of their lives when there are uproarious, glam-fab, celebrity-like ways to live? I guess man’s materialism is to blame. They steal jewelries, couture clothes, layer fabrics and fragrances for what, really? For the attention, still; I guess. The popularity. Heck, they probably do it just for the fuck of it. We aren’t really provided the chance to understand these characters’ motivations; thus the detachment between us as the audience and them as people whose story we follow.
“The Bling Ring” finds a group of high schoolers blinded by the gleam of shiny things and glamour of celebrity life. Marc (Israel Broussard) always wanted to fit in–and not just by the traditional sense of the term; he always wanted to fit in with the elite. So when the popular brunette at school Rebecca (Katie Chang) befriends him, he go measures beyond of legal things. Plus, he feels he loves her despite his hinted homosexuality. Rebecca, you see, has a knack to steal things. She can’t settle for cars that are left open, so she decided to rob Paris Hilton because the stupid, party-rocking bitch so cleverly leaves her house key under the carpet. She takes whatever looks fancy on her and on him. They gather a few more friends–aspiring model Nicki (Emma Watson), best friend Sam (Tassia Farmiga), and beats-loving Chloe (Claire Pfitser)–to share the glory with.
What makes “The Bling Ring” too far out of reach for us is that it derides its characters more than it tries to make them empathetic. These teenagers are unbelievably cold, stupid and brutal; but they also come as sketches most of the time. Particularly Nicki, played ably by Emma Watson, whose dream is always to be famous. She toils her way through it, but when tragedy strikes, she uses it to claim her long-desired celebrity life. In bars. The film’s conclude shows her in an interview that makes for a great comment about celebrities these days.
This film isn’t the likes of “Lost in Translation,” one of Coppola’s better films, but it isn’t as bad neither. But then, this is Sofia Copolla, and mediocrity easily disappoints. I’m sure this is just a temporal stumble for her, who remains one of my favorite directors of contemporary cinema, and she’s going to go back swinging.
RATING: 2 stars (out of 4)
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY:
- “The kids are left to run wild for themselves in a world of glitz and glamour that celebrates “more”, while the victims have SO much wealth that at times they don’t even recognize they’ve been robbed. I found it a compelling film.” – Fogs from Fogs Movie Reviews (read the full review)
- “Coppola’s style and unique-ways of telling a story her way, or the highway is what makes The Bling Ring a bit of an entertaining watch, but the lack of development with characters, reasoning, or cultural-significance makes it feel like an opportunity missed by a long ways.” – Dan from Dan the Man Movie Reviews (read the full review)