If you can’t steal other people’s belongings, then how the hell do you expect to make it in Hollywood?!?!?
High school friends Rebecca and Marc (Katie Chang and Israel Broussard) find themselves bonding over their love for fame and fashion on the first day of class, which also leads them on to their next love: stealing. At first, it’s just small amounts of jewelry and money here and there, but after awhile, once the groups gets bigger, with two more added to the mix (Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga), and the fortune and star-appeal begins to get to their heads, they decide that they can’t stop while they’re on top and might as well go for it all while they still can. So, this leads them onto a slew of break-ins into some of the most famous stars’ mansions (Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan, among others). But since they’re young, stupid, and as vain as you can get, they eventually find things to get a bit too hot, almost too hot for them to control at a certain point.
Believe it or not, we live in a world where shit like this happens, gets placed on TMZ.com, and is considered “news”. However, it is real and does provide some compelling story-telling, so why not do it one better and make it a full-length feature-flick? Hell, to top it off, why don’t we throw in writer/director Sofia Coppola, a chick who seems to know quite a thing or two about fame, letting it all go to your head, and how it makes you feel like you’re everybody else, but also empty inside at the same time? Yep, sounds like the right ingredients to me, doesn’t it?
Well, yes and no. More on the “no”, and less on the “yes”, but let’s stick with the positives and keep people happy, shall we?
Anyway, Coppola being the inspired and stylistic director that she truly is, always has this movie popping. There’s always a wonderful color-scheme going on, some form of camera-trickery happening to take you off-guard, and shots that literally speak for themselves, without any needed dialogue whatsoever. All of those three trademarks we sometimes love and hate Coppola for, are all here to be seen and enjoyed, even if it doesn’t add much to the story in the long-run; save for one shot where Coppola keeps her distance from one robbery in a glass-mansion, where all of the action you see is through the windows themselves. Shots like that rarely show up in this flick, but when they do, they are very original and exciting to see but I think this flick needed more of that.
Okay, I promised that I would start off light and happy but screw it! This flick sort of pisses me off because of what it had the ability to do! See, Coppola has a pretty interesting story here on her hands, and what makes it even better is that it’s all real. Now, of course we don’t know how much of what actually happened is pure speculation or the truth, and nothing but it so help you God, but for the most part, either/or: it’s a pretty interesting subject that shines a light on what it means to be “famous” or what it takes to be considered a “celebrity”, especially in the day and age we live in where almost everyone is channeling somebody else more famous, in hopes that they’ll be noticed just like them. That’s the 21st Century for ya, folks, and as much as it may suck, it’s the reality of the situation.
But see? What I already discussed right then and there is what makes this movie/story so interesting to begin with, so when Coppola didn’t seem to do much else with it other than give us the same damn sequence of these a-hole kids going around, stealing shit from people’s houses, going to the clubs, taking pictures, showing off their gifts, and posting everything they took on Facebook, it seems like a bit of a missed-opportunity, albeit a repetitive one that gets old quick as soon as the third robbery occurs. I get the point that Coppola is trying to get across about these characters and what it is that they pulled off: their lives are so dull and monotonous, that the actions they commit are just about the same way. Nothing new happens, and yet, you aren’t totally satisfied and need more. That’s what a lot of people say about our generation and if these ass-bags are the clearest-examples of it, then damn, I’m sad to be apart of it. I’m apart of it, and that’s something I can’t undo, but I sure as hell do feel bad about it.
Back to what I was saying about Coppola though; the gal obviously seems to know what she’s talking about and trying to get across, but it isn’t as interesting or as compelling to watch as you might expect coming from a chick that seems like she knows so much about achieving fame, but not knowing what to do with it’s boring life-style. After awhile, it seems to become the same scene, over-and-over again, without any more insight to what’s happening, it’s cultural-effect on the mass medias, or the characters themselves. Actually, if there was anything about this movie that got me a bit fired-up, it was that the characters just aren’t the type of people you want to spend time with in any movie, let alone a movie like this; and that’s not because they’re detestable as it is, they just aren’t in the least bit interesting.
Each and every character in this movie is probably the most shallow you can get, and whether or not the real-life people were actually like this makes me wonder just if they changed and if so, how much? Then again, those are smart thoughts that are too smart for a movie that doesn’t seem to care about them, and only cares about showing what these characters do, whenever they aren’t bored with their daily-lives of going to class and sitting down on the beach. They’re boring and dull people that only care about the riches in life, rather than the pleasures that can be seen by the most simplest things in life, but we never get a chance to go any deeper because Coppola obviously puts her hand up and shows that she doesn’t want to judge them. Fine, don’t do that, but at least give me something, hell, anything else to really make me want to pay attention to these characters with. They all seemed to be wanting the same things, had no uniqueness to them that made them humane in the least bit, and never popped-off the screen, into my lap, and ready to have a wild time with. Instead, they just robbed, talked stupid shite, and acted like they were hot shit, while we all watched and wondered, “Why?”
The answer to that, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. No, literally, it blew away and probably never coming back. Smooth move, Sofia!
I even feel bad for the cast because even though they’re given characters to work with that could be fun and exciting to watch, they’re just dull and uninteresting and fall under the weight of Sofia’s insistence on not shedding a light on who they were. Works for a tiny bit, but once it starts to affect the performances, then enough is about enough! Katie Chang is good as the ringleader of the group who starts it all off with her kleptomaniacan ways and shows that there’s so much fun, joy, and feeling of empowerment when you’re going into these celebrities houses, and stealing their shit. Chang is nice and detestable in her own way, and is probably the most subtle of all, which does go a long, long way for this cast. Israel Broussard is a nice equalizer for her as Marc, the closeted-gay friend of hers that loves all the things that she does, including herself. His character seemed like he could have been the most interesting of all, but Broussard isn’t that much of a talented actor to pull it off and eventually, you just see him get dropped off in a pool of obvious cliches and happenings that you can see coming a mile away. Even Emma Watson’s character falls prey to this, only because she’s so remarkably dumb, it’s a wonder how she even got away with it all in the end. I’m talking about the character Watson plays, not Watson herself, although the chick is already known for stealing her fair share of shit from celebrities.
Consensus: 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.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
That picture of Emma Watson licking her lips is enough for me to part with my cash. Nice write up Dan, sounds watchable if nothing brilliant.
Hahah that was the part everybody was locked and loaded for!
“if these ass-bags are the clearest-examples of it, then damn, I’m sad to be apart of it. I’m apart of it, and that’s something I can’t undo, but I sure as hell do feel bad about it.” hahaha!! This is exactly how the movie made me feel. so hopeless.
I feel like a 6/10 is really generous for this slopfest!!!!! although you really did make some good points; Coppola’s camerawork really did help the movie out more than i remembered. but to me, the characters were just so unlikable i almost couldn’t overlook that part. also, keen observation about Marc!!! i thought he was just a weirdo but that makes a lot more sense!! Great review
Thanks man! The movie had a chance to be a lot better than it was, thanks to Coppola, but her insistence on not judging them got to me after awhile.
I saw this one last night and agree with you all along to the point that I was getting pretty annoyed by the end. Yes, these characters are about as shallow as you can get and there is just about nothing that makes me root for them, but the overriding feeling was that almost from the outset I wanted then to get caught, the sooner the better. I do not care that the rich celebreties have all they need and more. There is something so fundamentally wrong in these teenagers attitude that goes way beyond youthfull bored rebellion. They do not for a second stop to comtemplate if it is okay to break in to peoples homes and steal from them. Only the chance of getting caught causes a split second of worry and that from Marc. Instead of making him the most sympathetic character it just makes him more of a pussy, because there is not a glimmer of remorse about the actual deed.
Only Coppola’s expert hand saves this film from utter disaster, but she is a good craftsman.
She has the talent and the knack for saving any story from death, but she comes close to falling victim here.
OOoooo….Emma Watson. Psyched. Sounds like a mediocre movie with amazing cast
Agree with everything you’ve written here. It’s such a fascinating, factual story, and Sophia just followed the basic outline. With so much accuracy in here, I felt it gave her the opportunity to throw in some creative curve balls–like tapping into some of the characters and making us understand them outside of the exterior that we’re given. I don’t know…I felt like she had a lot of room to play with characters and add a little Hollywood fictionalization for entertainment value, but she just stuck to the mundane Vanity Fair facts that we all already know
Great review! I’m disappointed to hear that Sophia doesn’t do a little bit more with what she’s been given, but I’m still looking forward to seeing this.
I saw the trailer for this today, as it hasn’t been released in the UK yet, and I was drawn in by the fact that it was 1) a true story and 2) Emma Watson. It was on my “see it if I have time” list but, I may go for rental on this one.
Even though people seem to be spread in terms of praise for this one, I love that the extended shot of the robbery is getting so much praise. That was ingenious.
a 6, huh? Interesting. I will be seeing this one but not with high expectations. Sofia Coppola is so up and down…
[…] “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) […]
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Dan, couldn’t agree more with your review. The most interesting part was the end when we got to see the interviews as they’re being arrested. I was bored and pissed and it just came across as spiteful with Emma Watson’s character. That last scene is like a “eff you,” for no reason.
Hi Dan. I’ve just had the misfortune of renting ‘The Bling Ring’ and, without doubt, it is one of the worst films I’ve seen in many years. Empty, paper-thin characters and almost nothing to redeem it. A two minute montage of the film would have got over all the plot points and told us the same amount about those involved. The direction by Coppola is nothing special, many music videos have more about them and the lack of interest in any of the characters leaves a gaping hole in the place where the heart of a film should be. I struggled to find enough in the film to give it 2/10. Keep up the great blogging, always good to read your stuff.
Nice review! I agree – there was something missing within the characters. Some areas were left unexplored. I for one thought the film was darker than most seem to think – two of the ring members in particular seemed to have a psychotic edge that Coppola seemed content to tip-toe the around. Nice job communicating the frustrating qualities – the film definitely has a sense of withholding, however stylish it is.