Movie Review: 'The Bling Ring' -- 3 stars
The Bling Ring
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Starring Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Leslie Mann
Playing at Village 7 and Lincoln Square
Sofia Coppola is the right director to tell the story of "The Bling Ring," a group of Calabasas, Calif., high school students who were convicted of burglarizing celebrity homes in 2008 and '09.
The real-life perpetrators came across as shallow, desperate fame-seekers, the ultimate manifestation of a big-name-obsessed culture gone overboard. And in films like "Marie Antoinette," Coppola has demonstrated a knack for eloquently conveying the shape and tenor of materialistic excess.
The movie stars Emma Watson and a host of other young actors as the profoundly irritating burglars, who are so obsessed with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and their ilk, not to mention designer labels and expensive jewelry, that they walk right into these tabloid targets' homes across the Hollywood Hills. They're also so dumb, and so desperate for attention, that they make no attempt to keep their actions quiet, posting pictures on Facebook and bragging at parties.
This is thin material that barely warrants a feature and Coppola accounts for that by producing a stylized shell that conveys the characters' soullessness. The flick gets you into their empty, Louboutin- and Gucci-loving heads by reflecting their fantasies of privileged Hollywood excess.
Slow-motion shots of the young women strutting down the street recall "Entourage," while montages blend the haphazard robberies with long nights of hedonistic clubbing. Eloquent framing includes a robbery sequence in which the camera pulls back to regard the home being burgled effectively as a dollhouse of sorts, a toy shrouded in darkness and framed against the glittering lights of the city below.
"The Bling Ring" is a rumination on the nightmare spawn of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "The Hills," TMZ and Us Weekly. The film doesn't celebrate or critique this pervasive culture that values fame and wealth above all things; it simply becomes it, with Coppola as a cinematic anthropologist of sorts, so that future generations might understand where we've been.