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Several years ago, a group of Los Angeles teenagers learned that they could easily break into the homes of celebrities, keeping tabs on their comings and goings online. This is their story, as told by Sofia Coppola. Coppola is one of my favorite modern directors. Her previous four films are generally about ennui-filled lives, and I can see what attracted her to this story about these vapid social media- and celebrity-obsessed kids feeding off the even more vapid celebrities (they even pick the most awful celebrities imaginable to victimize, like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox), but, in all honesty, this story just has no conflict whatsoever, and the little jackass teenagers who are at its center are so painfully uninteresting that, after spending half an hour with them, I really wanted to walk out of the theater. To boot, the plot is repetitive as Hell - teenagers break into house, teenagers steal baubles, teenagers drive away like idiots singing along with rap songs, teenagers do drugs, teenagers go out dancing. The film goes through this cycle like six times before the cops finally arrest them. The film is sometimes well shot (it was the last film shot by master cinematographer Henry Savides), and there's at least one killer sequence where the two main teens (Katie Chang and Israel Broussard) rob a glass house where it's shot from quite a distance (it's perhaps reminiscent of the glass apartments from Tati's Playtime - I don't know if Coppola had that in mind). The most recognizable stars in it are Harry Potter's Emma Watson and Leslie Mann, who plays her mom. I'd actually call this the worst film I've seen so far from 2013.
I saw an early screening of The Bling Ring and I have to say my
expectations were not met, in fact the movie did not even come close to
meeting them. When I heard that Emma Watson was going to be in a movie
about a group of teenagers robbing rich celebrities I have to say I was
intrigued. Add on top of that the fact that Sofia Coppola is the
director, she also made the excellent Lost in Translation, and I was
guaranteed to be seeing it sometime in theaters.
The film is based on the true story of a group of teenagers that lived in or around Calabasas, California. Sometime during the period of October 2008 through August 2009 the group, called the "Bling Ring", stole about $3 million in cash and belongings from celebrities including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, and Lindsay Lohan.
It is a fascinating story and one that sounds like a terrific setup for a film but the execution is terribly bland. If you have watched the trailer for the film it seems like it is going to be an insane mashup of partying scenes and what most people are going to be looking forward to Emma Watson and her friends robbing celebrities left and right. These scenes are in the movie but in the film they are not exciting or insane in any way. The robbing scenes all start off with the group looking up the celebrities house on the internet and then finding out if they are out of town or not. They then proceed to just drive up to the house, get out, walk up the driveway, walk around the house trying to open doors, and then when they find an unlocked one just walk right into the house. The filming is so lazy and simple that these scenes are as exciting as watching your neighbor unlock his front door and go inside after coming home from work. Then the actual robbing parts are just the group picking up the celebrities valuables and then constantly saying "Oh my god this looks hot!" Repeat this process for a good 20 times and you have the first 3/4 of the entire movie.
The characters in the film are based on the actual teenagers but their names have been changed. Contrary to the film's marketing selling Emma Watson as the main character she is actually not the ringleader of the group. Instead it is a girl named Rebecca played by Katie Chang. The film centers on Rebecca and her best friend Marc played by Israel Broussard. Their acting is so average and their interactions are so boring that it is hard to care for them at all. In fact the only above average performance in the movie is from Emma Watson and surprisingly she only plays a small role in the film until the end of the movie.
Altogether I am not sure who The Bling Ring was made for. The intended audience appeared to be teenagers but with a R-rating most of that audience is unable to pay to see it. But at the same time it cannot be for this group because the film tries so hard to be artistic. Case in point one of the heist scenes is a continuous shot of the exterior of a house while the characters are running around inside of it for a good four minutes. So the film is too slow to be for teenagers with small attention spans but it is not relatable or intelligent enough for anyone in their 20's or older. And as for those Emma Watson fans they should be prepared to be disappointed because she is not even on screen for a large portion of the movie.
The Bling Ring is a missed opportunity as it could have been an exciting teenage heist film but is instead a film that tries to be artsy and drags on for way too long. If you have to see it rent it on DVD but otherwise you will not be missing anything.
This movie probably lacks everything you want out of a good movie. To begin with there is no proper story, 90% of the movie is just kids playing around with shoes and bags, the characters are never really established or properly evolved, they are just there, doing things. The acting is dull and the dialogs are annoying, I'm not sure if this was intended to portray the bland L.A. wannabe lifestyle or just poor writing and acting, either way, it's boring to watch. You will also most likely want to slap some of these kids for being so vain and stupid. The directing is good, not great, but good, and I like the colour schemes in most of the scenes which gave the sense of the washed-out pictures you find on Tumblr and Pinterest. There isn't much action here either, you'd think in a movie about robbery would have some cool Ocean's 11 type sequences or something but not, none of that, most of the time the scene just cuts to when they are already in the house partying. The court trial at the end is also mashed up into a silly 5 second sequence where the court room door opens and closes. Emma Watson, is isn't the lead, is overly in focus through out the movie in a more than obvious attempt to sell her celebrity, in a movie like this, I just found that ironic. In short watch this if you want to see teenage girls play around with designer shoes and handbags.
Sofia please stop. Just for a second and consider that for those of us
who are less privileged than yourself - spending 10 Euros to see a film
is a lot of money. Asking us to sit in and watch your film for 90
well that is also quite a lot of time to ask. We (yes it was a
group of us) found your film to be lazy, boring and superficial.
At the start of the film it's declared that the film was based on a Vanity Fair article which says it all. It felt like the vanity fair article, google, TMZ and YouTube were the only source of research for this poor script.
Sofia seemed to approach this film with the same degree of snideness and holier than though attitude that I'm sure that same article evoked. You cannot judge your characters negatively and then write about them. As a result what you get is a bunch of shallow, one dimensional characters like the ones I had to endure for so long. 'That's the point' you may say 'they are one dimensional, they are shallow'. Well I looked up Emma Watsons real life character on YouTube she had much more depth than what Emma led us to believe and I was far more intrigued by her than what was presented on screen. Instead Sofia wants us just to laugh at these people - distance ourselves from them, put our behaviour above them as well, that's easy and it's wrong.
For anyone reading this I implore you to wait to watch this on an outlet that doesn't involve you wasting any of your hard earned money because it's not worth it. I can promise you that. The story is about a bunch of girls who seem obsessed in acquiring a celebrity lifestyle through any means. We follow them rob houses, post things on facebook, have silly conversations everywhere, driving, getting drunk and generally playing cartoon characters. Everything is so easy and inconsequential. The acting is so, so poor. The story is thin and lazily handled. Little effort, be it staging, pace, thought, editing has been invested into making this into any kind of legitimate film worth thinking about. It actually made me bored then angry hence why I am venting through IMDb.
We mustn't also forget that the director Ms Coppola has a bag line yes, a bag line with Louis Vuitton erm just be weary of this when you next go to see her many films about empty lives. I get that its best to write what you know but do it in an interesting, profound, humane way otherwise please don't bother.
Only one word can describe this movie: boring. I imagine there are plenty of indie-loving, artsy types that loved it but I found it very dull. There were a lot of nonsensical scenes that had no point and didn't add to the story at all. One in particular saw the male lead dancing and smoking weed in front of a night visioned camera by himself for a good 2 minutes. Don't ask me what the purpose of that was; I just don't know. The movie was sloppily cut and jarring in it's transitions at times. Not to mention repetitive. How many times can you watch this group of kids break in to Paris Hilton's house and try on hats? The only saving grace was Emma Watson. She played her character's self-centered, shallow, vapid nature with subtle believability. Other than that, I'd say avoid this movie at all costs. The level of boredom it conjures is mind-numbing at best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sexy girls (+ the alibi loser) break into celebrity villas, steal from them, get caught, go to jail. Most of the film I was just waiting that they would be eventually get caught. Instantly Harmony Korine's Spring breakers springs to mind. His film was much more innovative and riskier. The hedonistic lifestyle needs a bold approach and in The Bling ring it was not a roar but rather a meow. Korine's approach had quite a similar storyline but because probably because of the boldness of his film it was much more engaging. Also the characters in The Bling Ring stayed one-dimensional: super-confident and defining themselves through sex, clothes, looks, tattoos etc. The problem with such a one dimensional characterisation is that that they all become too predictable and the story becomes boring. We had the doubting boy and then super-confident girls and that dynamics played out exactly the same through the whole film. I see the point of the film showing the girls empowered through their superficial qualities and driving the break ins. Girl power gone in the wrong direction. No doubt it's an important development in society but using these cardboard characterisations creates a pretty boring film. Harmonie Korine's film was much better by taking the hedonism and multiplying it by 100 and having a story which turns more and more absurd to the end (girl power multiplied by 100). Overall the Bling Ring did everything wrong what Spring Breakers did bang on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was based on an article and it feels like an article stretched out
into a film.
I'm a fan of Sofia's work but this is crap. Incredibly two dimensional and the point of the film is established almost immediately and then drawn out from there. I understand what the film was trying to do but it did it in an exceptionally boring way.
Saw this in theaters and would have walked out if the ticket didn't cost so much.
Enough films about this Beverly Hills rich kid wanna-be celebrity lifestyle. It's incredibly boring.
Of the films I've seen this year, this is the worst. Spring breakers is a very close second.
Sofia Coppola gets it, she gets this social media generation. How do I
know? I'm part of it. I know girls like this; the types that don't
believe something exists unless it's been posted on their Facebook,
Twitter or Instagram. In her latest film The Bling Ring, Coppola gives
us a vibrant portrait of a society thats culture is so lost it's hard
to decide who you hate more; wannabes or celebrities.
I was lucky enough to attend an early screening of The Bling Ring tonight and if there's one word I could use to describe this film it would be: precise. Every edit intricately planned to have a purpose. Upon the first time viewing I don't blame people for missing it. The Bling Ring is intentionally scattered, as if the film itself had a serious case of ADD. The attention span of the edit is about as long as the attention span of our narrators. At times when the narrative shifts focus from one character to another the edit changes with them. If you watch it closely you can almost see the film as a thought process, how each character relives the crimes.
I loved the way this film was shot. It's interesting, the way we view these characters is almost in the background, as if we the audience are in fact the surveillance camera we remain distant from the people on screen not understanding what drives them or even feeling the thrill of robberies. Don't get me wrong there is tension, but only at very interesting times that aren't because of the fear of the robbery. Even scenes where they are almost caught are shown to us very flat trying to detach us from the characters as much as possible.
I've always appreciated Sofia's slow moving dolly shots and they work stunningly in this film. Rarely does a seemingly static shot hold an audiences attention, especially one that takes place outside the house that's being robbed; thanks to the sound design the low ominous tones, as subtle as they are, really drive the scenes.
Emma Watson is fantastic. The way she portrays Nicki's vacant need to fulfill her meaningless desires was striking and the accent and voice inflections made the performance all the more impressive. Besides Emma, most of the other girls are forgettable which I enjoyed; at times you can confuse them with one another because they try so hard to be the same style of person.
Another thing I loved is the amount of "selfies" these girls take. As Coppola herself said it's as if "your experiences don't count unless you have an audience watching them" and you can really feel that in this film. None of the characters really have any "moments" despite their attempts at proving it.
Overall I really enjoyed the film. The entire thing feels like this giant master plan that will need multiple viewing to take in everything Coppola was trying to say. While not as surprising as I thought it was going to be the themes explored near the end of the film were worth the fabulously detailed ride we knew to expect from the trailer.
The Bling Ring is a unique social commentary, which on the surface layer is bound to be compared to Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, both giving us their take on sociopathic young teens. Where the films differ thematically is the interesting part. You'll have to figure that one out on your own.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I prepared myself for the glitzy superficial clubbing and personality of all the characters in the movie, and I made an excuse for that, it was the medium for the film's plot, setting, and the base event. However, it does not excuse the poor production of this film. I prepared myself to dislike many of the character's personalities and not to personally relate to them. Yet, beyond the proper medium, there were no characters. In the beginning we are introduced to Marc, who explains that he has suffered from depression, anxiety, and poor self esteem- clichéd, but whatever, yet it never ties into the plot ever again. The "antagonist" Rebecca, supposedly a sociopathic beauty, is introduced in common fashion, but no depth is ever given to her. Marc and Rebecca become friends, and although Marc clearly states that he is only at alternative school for absences, on their first "date" (because they pull the stereotypical gay card on Marc as well, so we aren't quite sure on his preferences)he is automatically going from troubled new kid to thief and felon. The plot never ties in, period, and furthermore, Marc's character only serves as a "pity" pitch at the audience, with the idea that if they present a kid who wasn't already an allegorical "Axis" power, then the conclusion will be more compelling when Rebecca, the sociopathic leader, is caught. The only premise of Rebecca being "unhinged" is her petty theft and binge shopping lifestyle. This movie had the potential to document a case that's a bit scary in reality-everyone has access to anything these days. Marc's only purpose to Rebecca is looking up addresses on Google Maps. Yep. Not a computer hacker. No tracking devices. Google Maps. He is, essentially, a worthless character. None of the plot points quite tie together-later in the movie, after Marc's mention of how he was "insecure" of how "ugly" he felt, we see that not a few weeks or so after he met Rebecca, he's prancing around in Prada heels.v I do not have a problem with this. I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MALES BEING FEMININE. I have a problem with the inconsistency in the plot, because he mentions that the only reason he got involved with all of the larceny was because he felt "anxious, depressed, and ugly." Yes, I am aware of what all those can lead a person to, but mind you, we are never opened to Marc's "vulnerable" side. We hear during his narration about 5 times about how he was "convoluted" in thought, but for a majority of the film, there is no conflict affecting him. He does not give two shits. He was enjoying himself just as much as Rebecca, Nikki, and the others were. There are several mentions of him being nervous in the houses of Paris Hilton or Orlando Bloom, which I guess was a ploy at making him appear self conscious about his actions-but in reality he wasn't sorry for what he did, he just didn't want to get caught. It had nothing to do with remorse, it was all about retribution. He mentioned one time, after the security video of Audrina Partidge's robbery was released, that they should stop. Not for the good of the others, but because someone NOTICED. Even at the end of the film, his "justified" personality lies about knowing where Rebecca was. I know characters are flawed, humans are flawed, but the set up for this character was done by a panel of drunk monkeys. Nothing adds up! As for all the others? Rebecca is not given enough analysis to be a convincing or dangerous presence in the film's world. Emma Watson (I love her, this is quite painful to say) sounds a bit mechanical, her valiant attempt at America ditz was honorable but stinted emotionally. Taissa Farmiga, not given much screen time but I laud her for the scene she did with the gun. I can't remember if her character was drunk (most likely) but I even felt nervous when she started pushing people around. Much conviction in her..."unbalanced" style of acting. Overall this movie was...pretty disappointing. What's supposed to be a case film is mainly an hour or so of dancing on poles, stealing clothes, clubbing, and snorting coke.
Sofia Coppola is one of the most interesting and divisive filmmakers
working today. It seems that with every new film she releases there's
always a wide array of responses, both positive and negative. And
that's very true with her new film, The Bling Ring. Some love it, and
some loathe it. I personally enjoyed it very much, and the more I think
about it, the more I like it and would maybe even see it again. It's an
interesting and atmospheric look at American celebrity and media
culture that bleakly shows how we can think being rich and famous can
make us "happy."
The film is based on a Vanity Fair article about how in 2008, a group of Californian teenagers (4 girls & 1 boy) stole millions-of-dollars worth of clothing and jewelry and possessions from celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox, and others. It's a stranger-than- fiction kind of story that could lend itself to exploitation, satire, or even heavy-handed moralizing, but Coppola distances herself from the lurid material and simply displays it as a set of facts. It's a cold, deadpan film, but there's several fascinating moments of insight and darkly funny commentary that make it interesting. It's been compared to Harmony Korine's similar film "Spring Breakers," which also features several young girls trying to experience the media's view of what a fun Spring Break is. Whereas that film is knowingly repetitive in its dialogue and images and very violent and exploitative to get its point across, Coppola goes for a more restrained and almost documentary type of style. In fact, there's several instances where the main action is interrupted and we see scenes of the characters being interviewed after the events or TMZ-like celebrity news stories.
The Bling Ring is benefited by its central young actors who give strong, naturalistic performances that feel so live-in that they give an improvisational feel. The leaders of the Bling Ring are Marc (Israel Broussard) and Rebecca (Katie Chang). Marc is the quiet, insecure gay kid who soon is taken under the wing of Rebecca, who's troubled yet confident and cold-as-ice. Broussard is charming and subtly sympathetic and Chang is hyper-perceptive, smart, and cold but not without a conscience. There's Chloe (Claire Julien), the loud and outgoing one in the group. Then there's sisters Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Nicki (Emma Watson). It's interesting seeing Watson in a supporting role since she's arguably the most famous out of the central gang, but it pays off because of Nicki's larger-than-life, self-absorbed Valley Girl personality. Watson is the scene-stealer of the film with her smart and satirical performance that never goes over-the-top and always feels real, which makes the character that much more misguided and tragic. It's early to say something like this, but it's a performance that deserves some Best Supporting Actress recognition. Also very good and inspired here is the always funny Leslie Mann, who plays the flighty mom of Sam and Nicki and teaches them the ever so spiritual teachings of "The Secret." There's a scene near the end of the film between Watson and Mann that is just pure, dark comedy gold.
The plot mostly consists of the gang clubbing, breaking into houses, driving around, and trying on clothes. It sounds repetitive, and well, technically it is. But Coppola distinguishes each break-in with its own tone and style and you can very subtly see how the characters change as they become more and more comfortable with invading the houses. For example, the break-in of Audrina Patridge's house is all done in one, long take from outside, across the street as Marc and Rebecca rummage through all her things and run from room-to-room and eventually leave. Another break-in finds Sam cluelessly waving around Megan Fox's pistol without a care in the world. And one of the film's most telling and haunting shots comes when the gang is inside Lindsay Lohan's house and Rebecca stares at the mirror and smiles so genuinely that it almost seems like that's the happiest she's ever been. It's a truly disturbing and haunting moment and the film is full of subtle images that let you into the characters' psyche and ego.
But the glue that holds the film together is the dynamic between Marc and Rebecca. There's several poignant and moving moments between the two characters that cut through the film like a knife and let you into the ultimately empty and sad feelings the two characters have. Their scenes and dialogue are so sharply drawn that it reminds you just how gifted of a writer Coppola is as well.
So this movie just worked for me. It's not a film that's trying to dig deep into it's subject, and it's not even really interested in telling you all of the details about this group of young robbers. It's ultimately this odd, off-kilter tone poem that's beautiful to look at and at times surprisingly poignant and hilarious. (And lastly I'd like to mention the great and legendary work of cinematographer Harris Savides, who, during shooting this film, passed away from brain cancer. The film is dedicated to him.)
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