Not sure about this latest offering from Sofia Coppola. The story, a “ripped from the headlines” tale of suburban LA kids robbing the homes of the rich and famous in order to get their hands on lingerie and, ostensibly, to have some of the fame rub off on them, is interesting in and of itself, but Coppola’s dramatization of it is a little shallow.
Of course, therein lay my uncertainty. Coppola is a very talented filmmaker and it’s not like her to leave this story unexamined the way she does, but then, maybe that was her point – there really was nothing more to the “villains” than what you see. Maybe “The Bling Ring” really were just a group of spoiled kids, out of touch with reality and obsessed with celebrity culture to the point that they considered the people they saw on the magazines as unreal personifications of their own desires and therefore, whatever the rich and famous had should be shared equally and fairly.
But then, is it fair to blame the ever-present cult of celebrity for this relatively harmless activity of theft when compared to Brett Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero from the mid 80s where a group of bored rich kids kidnap and torture a young girl. Maybe the celebrity obsession is a help, then, it gives the unbalanced a focus and a goal. If the Kardashians can become famous, then why can’t I? At least in Coppola’s film, the association with celebrity was almost as important as the celebrity-dom itself.
Since the drama inherent in the situation never really translated to any particularly nail-biting moments, the only reason we care about any of the characters is due to the performances, because it’s not on the page. In the primary roles of the ring leader and her tech savvy best friend, Katie Chang and Israel Broussard are serviceable if inexperienced. Chang pulls off sociopath easily while Broussard manages to make the “gay loner looking for acceptance in high school” less of a cliche than was written for him. The real player here, though, is Emma Watson, who, as one of the two in the lead roles with any significant experience, is doing whatever she can to distance herself from Hermione Granger and build up a resume to lead to continued Hollywood success. Interesting, this is the second film I’ve seen her in this week and in both she was the standout.
I can’t recommend rushing out to the theatre to see this film, but when it shows up on cable, you should certainly check it out.