The Bling Ring marks Sofia Coppola’s first feature since 2010’s outstanding Somewhere and faces the challenge of living up to the quality of this and her previous body of work. Whilst The Bling Ring is an enjoyable watch, it ultimately feels as superficial and shallow as its central characters.
Based on real events, The Bling Ring documents a group of teens who break into the homes of some of America’s biggest celebrities.
Coppola’s narrative presents us with teens burglarising the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Orlando Bloom simply because they can. This is handled with a lack of insight or depth which can result in The Bling Ring becoming quite a frustrating watch – it is not clear whether Coppola is making a statement about obsession with celebrity or the lack of direction faced by young people. You could make a case for both (and more) arguments, yet Coppola does not commit to either – she simply portrays these teens committing the crimes through a skewed sense of self-entitlement. Whilst this is always continually watchable thanks to Coppola’s distinct aesthetic style, it seems like somewhat of a wasted opportunity that she does not dig below surface depth.
Despite this frustration, there is much to enjoy about The Bling Ring. Coppola’s dialogue provides an often amusing look at our celebrity obsessed culture – best presented when Katie Chang’s Rebecca’s main concern about her crimes was Lindsay Lohan’s reaction, or when Emma Watson’s Nicki discusses her ambition to lead a country. Leslie Mann’s appearance as Nicki’s mother also furthers the idea of the cult of celebrity through references to a lifestyle ideal known as The Secret.
There may be little to the characters of The Bling Ring other than their vacuous Californian lifestyle and superficial style and beliefs, yet there are still some solid performances within the feature. Katie Change excels as Rebecca, the careless teen who initiates the first break-ins, whilst Israel Broussard is solid as the more cautious best-friend. However, it is Emma Watson who makes The Bling Ring – the actress is magnificent as the spoilt LA teen who happens to be the most superficially charismatic of the group.
Coppola’s aesthetic is perhaps one of the most redeeming elements of The Bling Ring from the sun-stroked Californian streets to the pulsating nightlife, set to an eclectic soundtrack of contemporary pop and R&B music.
There is a lot to like about The Bling Ring from its clever dialogue, excellent performances and Coppola’s distinct glossy aesthetic, but it ultimately feels like an unfulfilling watch with a narrative lacking the depth that it needs.
Release: 22nd June 2013 (EIFF) 5th July 2013 (UK Cinema)
Stars: Emma Watson, Katie Chang ,Leslie Mann,Israel Broussard, Katie Chang
Director: Sofia Coppola