Review: The Bling Ring
A group of five celebrity-obsessed and materialistic teens rob their Hollywood idols and chill in their empty houses, all the while showing off their swag and partying in excess. The group is made up of the dumb one (brunette), the bitchy one, the crafty one, the gay one, and the other dumb one (blonde).
Who’s in It?
Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga are the more notable of the quintent, while new stars Katie Chang and Israel Broussard are the crux of the group. Also making an appearance is Leslie Mann as Emma and Taissa’s Secret-lovin, home-schooling mother. Gavin Rossdale of Bush makes an appearance to because I suppose everyone has to keep working.
When the lines between reality and artifice, homage and apery, are blurred, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not. The felonious characters at the centre of The Bling Ring, a chic if not annoying true story about five L.A. kids that robbed from the rich to give to, well, themselves, can’t possibility know which way is up. They just know what they want.
It starts when Marc, a floppy-haired teen with low self esteem who is entering a new school, comes across the sweet and manipulative Rebecca. The two go from looking for unlocked cars to sneaking into empty celebrity homes, starting with and frequently Paris Hilton’s (Hilton’s actual place was used, and she said watching the film brought back troubling memories. Poor girl).
It’s a habit that becomes addictive, and the more money, drugs, and clothing they acquired, the more they want. The circle grows too, as the deviant pair acquires three more culprits, and their escapades are flaunted at school, in the club, and of course on Facebook. They don’t hide their faces when they rob; when they leave a site, they show off everything they told, smiling as they tell their lowly peers all the cool stuff they’re doing.
They aren’t the brighest, and calling them ‘The Bling Ring’ suggests not only a sense of organization, but also a degree of cleverness, two traits everyone in the group is lacking. Watson’s Nicki is a dumb aspiring actress, feigning a charitable nature and positive aura, while Rebecca meanwhile is most duplicitous. She often shouts down her bestie Marc, a meager boy wanting to fit in, but one who can’t seem to keep his nerves in check. Chloe, the scantily-clad blonde makes terrible choices, while Sam, well, she makes dumb choices too.
Director Sophia Coppola’s choices though are hesitant, more in favour of dressing things up than stripping them down. She neither chastises the kids nor glorifies, though the scale tip towards the latter, In one scene, the feisty fivesome, clad in their newest of threads and most fashionable of accessories, strut along a Los Angeles boulevard, but it’s just as much artifice as them – it’s set to pop music and slowed down for effect.
And so the film struts, slowly, with little direction or remorse, all style and little substance. The kids steal and party, and steal and party some more, and even at 90-minutes, the film seems to be laboring (it is based on a Vanity Fair article, after all). The kids may be representative of a spoiled, obsessive youth culture, but they are unlikeable and unredeemable, and sadly Coppola focuses more on their exploits than their punishment. Party on.
Should I See It?
This one is for the youths – the wistful, fashionable, materialistic youth.
Fashion tip: “You can’t have leopard and zebra, you have to choose one.”