UK Release Date: 5th July 2013
Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien
Synopsis: A group of celebrity obsessed teens carry out a series of burglaries at the homes of the rich and famous.
It was screaming from every shot of every trailer and all of the publicity material – The Bling Ring is Hermione going hedonistic. Sofia Coppola’s satirical take on celebrity culture was supposed to be Emma Watson coming of age. To an extent it is, but it’s also an unappealing, dull mess of a film.
Marc (Israel Broussard) meets the rebellious Rebecca (Katie Chang) on his first day at a new school. Alongside her friend Nicki (Emma Watson) and others, they follow the lives of their celebrity idols and then, when they’re out, break into their homes for a slice of the high life.
The depressing thing about The Bling Ring is that its premise is so interesting and full of potential. Based on a Vanity Fair article about a real life gang who stole millions of dollars worth of valuables from celebrity homes, it could have been a biting satire of excess and celebrity culture in modern society.
But to do that, it really had to be interesting.
A film like this immediately has a problem in that it’s about a group of vapid, uninteresting individuals. As such, Sofia Coppola’s script had to do something to inject some life and intrigue into the characters so that the movie could make them identifiable as real humans.
Whilst their incursions into the homes of stars such as Paris Hilton are well shot, the interest evaporates as soon as the audience is back in the company of the characters themselves. They just aren’t engaging enough to make The Bling Ring worth watching.
Much critical acclaim has been poured upon The Bling Ring for its performances. In particular, Emma Watson’s deadpan turn as Nicki has received a small amount of Oscar buzz. It’s true that the performances are strong pretty much across the board, but this isn’t enough to overcome the hurdle of the characters’ innate tedium. The possibility for celebrity culture satire is skirted around for a while, but Coppola never sticks the knife in where she should and so it feels rather blunted in that sense.
It doesn’t help that Coppola’s direction is overwhelmingly bizarre. One scene shows the gang invade a house in extreme long shot, leaving the audience watching a couple of tiny specks darting around rooms for a couple of agonisingly slow minutes. Even the party scenes have a strangely dull quality to them.
The Bling Ring is a very strange beast, in that it doesn’t seem to do much particularly wrong, and yet it makes absolutely no impact whatsoever. It would be great if this proves to be Emma Watson’s stepping stone to more adult roles, but that’s probably the only thing that renders this total missed opportunity noteworthy.
Just like the celebrity culture it attempts to skewer, The Bling Ring is empty, baffling and completely devoid of purpose.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.