Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Written by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Georgia Rock, Emma Watson
As the saying goes, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” which occurs whenever bored teenagers decide to cause a raucous. In the case of The Bling Ring, the rich rob the richer and its story turns out to be as hollow as its characters.
Marc (Israel Broussard) attends a new school and becomes close friends with Rebecca (Katie Chang). After Marc reveals to know some wealthy folks in Southern California, Rebecca devises a plan to break into their homes and rob celebrities when they know they’re away. What begins as a raid of Paris Hilton’s house becomes much more.
I understand what The Bling Ring attempted to do with its narrative and how it highlights the destructive nature of such privileged kids but the story fails to come together with any real substance in my estimations. It appears to be a running theme in writer/director Sofia Coppola’s filmography. I typically enjoy the films, which test her characters either physically or mentally but when she fixates on such privileged individuals and their non-existent issues, it feels ultimately hollow. It comes across in this film along with Marie Antoinette, and Somewhere. The issues feel so superfluous and the characters fail to connect with me, so I’m left appreciating her directing style, which is always great.
The story follows these teens and how they live such unfulfilling lives that they utilize the opportunity to steal as some new thing to take on. It creates a bonding relationship between Marc and Rebecca while also exposing their true character. Their friendship anchors the film and the performances by Chang and Broussard rise to the occasion. One person, however, who I could not vibe with at all was Emma Watson as Nicki Moore. She represents a level of shallowness the smallest puddle in the world would be jealous of. I appreciate Watson as a person but her range proves to be incredibly limited when she attempts to take a role like this. It makes itself painfully clear when she utters the now-famous phrase, “I wanna rob.” I was dumbfounded in trying to ascertain what in the world she attempted to do with this character. Ultimately, it feels like a miscast role, as other actors could have made this character the comedic and ridiculous person Nicki was intended to be.
While the performances are a mixed bag, they could not elevate a story that contained no real intrigue. Sure, these bored teenagers decide to rob celebrity houses for vane reasons but the film fails to offer anything of substance to its story outside of white privilege overcoming even the most high-profile forms of crime. Instead, it becomes a light show of these bratty teenagers basking in the glory of robbing celebrity homes, who happen to leave a key under their mat. Not saying Paris Hilton deserved to have her home burglarized, but if a key happens to be left in the most obvious place imaginable, obsessed fans will find a way to enter. The plot comes from a real story covered by Vanity Fair and it appears a documentary would have made for more of an interesting exploration of this crime rather than some soulless feature film.
The Bling Ring seeks to indict a culture obsessed with notoriety and attention no matter the cost, but it fails to bear it out in a remotely interesting way. It’s a film I’ve repeatedly tried to give chances because several people I respect love the movie, but I guess I cannot get on this film’s wavelength and vibe with what value people see in it. In my estimations, it’s Sofia Coppola’s poorest effort as a writer and even her strong direction could not steer it towards something remotely interesting.