The Bling Ring (2013)

The Bling Ring
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Based on: Nancy Jo Sales‘ article The Suspect Wore Louboutins
Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann, Gavin Rossdale

Plot:
Marc (Israel Broussard) is new to his school but quickly connects with Becca (Katie Chang). The two of them obsess over fashion and celebrities together, which leads to them heading to Paris Hilton’s home when they know she isn’t there. They find the key, they enter, they steal a bit, they tell their friends about it. And then they return and take their friends with them. Pretty soon, robbing celebrities becomes a regular thing for all of them.

I’m not a big fan of Coppola’s work and this movie proved to me again why that was the case. It was weird and boring and generally pretty damn awful.

The-Bling-Ring

Their were so many points in the film where I thought that the story had potential if it was explored a bit further (the awkward home-schooling, for example, or the weird high-school). There could have also been made more of the celebrity obsession. But Coppola abandons all these story access points and rather shows us yet another scene where all these kids take selfies and post them on facebook rather than interacting with each other. Or yet another scene where they sing along to rap songs that are probably highly symbolic as well but that I can’t be arsed to decipher.

Though honestly I was rather happy about the karaoke (and the clube scenes), since it marked the only points in the movie where the soundtrack was actual music and not some ambience noise that annoyed the hell out of me and that I just didn’t think very fitting for the film.

Still from Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring

I also thought that it was extremely weird that the two people who really got to tell their stories in this were Marc and Nicki (Emma Watson) but that we don’t get to hear a peep from Becca, the instigator and leader of the group. I thought that was a pretty awkward writing choice.

Especially since Emma Watson can’t really act her way out of a paper bag. Yes, she’s very pretty. And I do believe that she really tries very hard. But her acting always looks like she’s trying hard and like she’s acting. It just doesn’t work and it actually made me cringe during the film.

Mercifully, it’s short. It just isn’t short enough.

The-Bling-Ring2

Summarizing: Skip it. Unless you really want to see the inside of Paris Hilton’s house. In which case I find you a bit creepy but then you should totally go for it.

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4 thoughts on “The Bling Ring (2013)

  1. We are usually of one opinion when I actually got around to seeing a film on time, but in this case it seems like we have seen two entirely different movies.
    I absolutely respect your opinion and I know a lot of people share it but like with most Sophia Coppola films I wonder why people are so split up about it.
    I, unsurprisingly, really enjoyed The Bling Ring for a couple of reasons that made you not like it (and with some things I simply disagree) and I find it really interesting how people react so contrary to the same thing.

    I actually enjoyed Coppola’s observational style. I like that she used a near impartial way of telling these teenagers’ story. How they move from robbing cars to houses. How, no matter how much they have, there is always something left to want. And that these people don’t know when is enough. They’re limitless and driven by an unfillable void.

    I think, had Coppola chosen to go more into depth of where they come from and what makes them tick, she would’ve forced the viewer into an opinion, making them sympathise with the characters. This way viewers are trapped between emotions of seeing those characters as victims and villain alike. It creates an inner turmoil instead of creating clear attributions (bad/good/greyish).

    I like that they shot at Paris Hilton’s house because it makes me as a viewer gawk at her belongings just like the characters. I dislike it for the same reason – inner turmoil again.

    I could go on, but this comment has run away with me already. Sorry for highjacking.

    • No worries, highjack away! I like comments, especially when they’re long and thoughtful.

      I’m all for painting the world in all its different colors and shades and not in black and white. But I think that she didn’t do that. She didn’t show different positions and different angles on one and the same thing, she showed one angle on one thing – the teenager’s view – and then left it up to the audience to make up their minds about it. And that is not the same thing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to do it that way, but personally I prefer a movie that takes more of a stand, a pov from the movie itself that I can agree or disagree with. Because honestly, I didn’t know what the movie wanted from me.

      Maybe this opinion-less-ness of the movie would have workd better if I liked anybody in it. I would have wanted to sympathize with the characters more. Because that would have created that inner turmoil for me that you speak of. As it was, I pretty much hated all of them and hating somebody makes it way easier to pass judgement and to say things like they should all go to jail forever. That’s a pretty clear stance, that’s an opinion. If I had known more about them, understood them a bit more, related more to them, it would have been harder to form such a clear opinion. In that case I could have oscillated between seeing them as victims and villains. Because as the movie was, I saw them as annoying, hollow cardboard-cutout villains only.

      • I don’t feel like she showed the teenager’s view, because if she had, we would have gotten to know them better, and we would’ve seen their world through their eyes and understood them better, wouldn’t we?

        I think she presented those teenagers more like an enigma. A puzzle that you look at but can’t quite figure out. Like that shot of that house (the Partridge robbery), we observe and see what they do, but we can’t quite grasp why. We don’t understand them and we try to find reasons for their behaviour. But because we’re not given any (or very few) we are forced to look at the bigger picture and seek explanations in society as a whole.

        And that, in turn, makes me question the world I live in. She removes those teenagers from the world and looks at them in their own microcosm, thus giving the viewer the opportunity to put them into a world as he/she perceives it.

        I didn’t like any of the characters either. But my imagination runs wild when trying to figure them out and that’s what makes them good characters for a film, I think.

        • It’s really fascinating how opposite views can be, as in our case here. Because everything you see in the film works just the other way round for me.

          Just because we get to see somebody’s view doesn’t mean we get to understand them, especially if we don’t get any background. If you just see USAmericans waving their flags and be all patriotic, you might not understand why they’re that fucking obsessed with their own country and have to have it be the best country in the world. But if you look at US history and their status as an immigration country and in the world, it’s perfectly understandable.

          But this movie gives us the teenagers’ view without any background whatsoever. And I’m just not into the entire “people are so mysterious, we can never understand them” shtick. Not everything fits perfectly together in people. There can be tensions, inconsistencies, overlaps and gaps. But generally people can be understood. But for that we need to see them as more than mysteries and we need more information.

          And maybe that’s my sociologist outlook on the world, but I always see the social factors, no matter how personal the stories. And if we leave out the personal parts of stories, they become dry and meaningless numbers. And nobody is helped by that.

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