The youth. What are they like, eh? Well, apparently in one part of Los Angeles they’re a bunch of hedonistic, celebrity obsessed posers who dabble in more than just a spot of breaking and entering. Their targets? The unsuspecting rich and famous. Grrr! Not in my day! Whatever happened to Hopscotch?
Sofia Coppola passes her lens over the real life story of the Bling Ring — a crew of bored high schoolers who got their rocks off from burglarizing a number of celebrity homes throughout 2009. It’s Ocean’s Eleven for the reality TV generation. Time and time again I find myself watching crime films based on real life events and asking, “Why wasn’t this a documentary?” I have said it at least twice this year: first with Compliance and now with The Bling Ring. Compare these two films with last year’s The Imposter or West of Memphis. The latter two are both fantastic crime movies because, through their conceit as documentaries, they are able to explore their crimes through multiple angles.
In this movie, Coppola is restricted to looking at the Bling Ring’s escapades just through her ensemble cast — and even that is restricted to pretty much just the eponymous crew, so, instead of looking at the whys and wherefores of the actual crimes themselves, we are confronted with endless scenes of the outlaws’ fictionalized counterparts whirling around in Paris Hilton’s walk-in wardrobe. For an hour and a half. It is such a missed opportunity.
The film’s main draw, no doubt, will be the star power of Emma Watson but, just like with her turn in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I can’t help but feel she is just trying too hard to shed her association with Hermione Granger. As I sat through The Bling Ring I kept asking myself, “Is this girl really an actress? Or someone who was incredibly lucky as a child and so attached to a phenomenal franchise that audiences still want to see her?” I saw nothing in this film to persuade me into believing the former. All I know is that someone should tell her agent she really cannot pull off a convincing American accent.
So, what am I left with? I’ll admit The Bling Ring has its odd good moment. In one particular scene depicting the arrest of the member of the crew who is infatuated with Lindsay Lohan, the perpetrator asks one of the police officers, “Did you speak to the victims?” When he answers in the affirmative, she replies, “What did Lindsay say?” Coppola’s screenplay sparkles with a few comic gems such as this but they are too far and few between. All her main characters are horrendously unlikable, desperately over privileged idiots who are entirely exempt of wit or charisma of any kind.
Dateline NBC recently broadcast an episode looking at the real life Bling Ring in a one hour program infinitely more interesting than anything in this movie — and a quick Google search will prove that, often, fact is a lot stranger, and far more entertaining than fiction.
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