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The Bling Ring
U.S.A. 2013

Opening 15 Aug 2013

Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Writing credits: Sofia Coppola, Nancy Jo Sales
Principal actors: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga

It’s 2008 and fear has swept across the Hollywood hills, leaving socialites and starlets clutching their Birkin bags tightly to their chests as a handful of troubled teens went around breaking into rich people’s poorly protected homes stealing things these people barely missed anyway. Based on a true story, after several months the teens were later caught and brought to full justice in the court of law. However, despite being handed an interesting true story, Sofia Coppola clumsily handles the analysis of the teens and the crime and instead presents a stylized movie with loud music, undeveloped characters and Emma Watson trying to prove to the world that she is no longer Hermione Granger.

It is incredibly frustrating when a director is handed an interesting story on a silver platter and yet fails to bring out any depth. Instead of analyzing the specific teens, their motivations, their interests, their reasons for their rather narcissistic arrogance, Coppola instead focuses on their drug use, shallowness and the fact that one of the parents was a hippy-dippy follower of the book The Secret. There is no attempt to understand these teens who are clearly deeply troubled. The film instead paints them as two-dimensional shallow individuals who are celebrity obsessed. Perhaps this is because the film is a product of the very people who the Bling Ring had terrorized, the Hollywood institution. The judgment against these teens is almost tangibly felt throughout the film, and this is not very shocking considering it comes from Sofia Coppola, who is one of the ilk they targeted.

Do not waste your time on this waste of a movie. It does not help you understand why these teens did what they did. It does not help you see the extreme wealth divide that is so blatant in this region of America or how American youths are meant to idolize it. And, for the most part, it just seems like another example of how adults often extremely misunderstand teen culture and issues and gloss them over in mainstream media instead of treating teenagers as individuals with actual motivations besides drug use and vanity. What a disappointment of a film this is. (Rose Finlay)

Second Opinion

Devoid of a storyline, character development, or noteworthy production values, there is little worth writing about. A group of older, well-off Valley teens meet at a “drop-out (high) school”, and start an atypical trend of “shopping”, i.e. they steal from Hollywood Hill houses. They case targets online, then break-in the homes of actors and filthy rich pseudo-famous people. After cavorting and choosing which designer goods to take, they later celebrate with booze, drugs, and clubbing. Watching their monkey business over and over consumes the first 60 minutes. In the film’s final 30 minutes, the gang’s bragging brings results. Cops piece together surveillance footage from the burgled homes, it goes out on L.A.’s television newscasts, and a tipster comes forward.

Siblings Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola produced The Bling Ring. Sofia wrote (Oscar© for Best Original Screenplay, Lost in Translation [2003]) and directed (2003 also nominated for Best Director) this film. Had she taken the facts, chosen a direction, and explored the individuals’ personalities, the result could have been different – perhaps a satirical comedy lampooning society’s fixation with tabloids and reality TV. Instead, as a social commentary the film is desultory, and panders to the inane and lowest common denominator. Sans the Coppola name, would this film have been made… again? There is a 2011 American TV version. Save your money and read the original article online: quicker and much, much more informative. Lines in the movie, like, came straight from Sales article. Including the title – par for the course the media tagged this gang, and now two films, “the Bling Ring”. (Marinell Haegelin)

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