‘The Bling Ring’: Lost in consumption
A review of Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” which attempts to satirize a real-life group of L.A. teenagers who robbed celebrity homes for kicks.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘The Bling Ring,’ with Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Leslie Mann. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, based on the Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales. 87 minutes. Rated R for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language including some brief sexual references. Several theaters.
In Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” the camera lingers lovingly on crammed-full closets: a rainbow wall of shoes, heels reaching to the sky; a sparkly tangle of necklaces; rows and rows of clothing on hangers, all perfectly pressed and ready for their close-ups.
These are the stashes of the rich and famous — and they were the targets of the real-life Bling Ring, a group of Los Angeles teenagers who passed time by robbing movie-star homes. (Who knew Paris Hilton would routinely leave a key under the mat?) These garments and accessories are, unfortunately, more intriguing than the humans in this movie; though this deadpan satire is occasionally wickedly funny, it wears out its welcome before its brief 87 minutes are up.
The Ring, whose names have been changed for this movie, was a group of four girls and a boy. None were poor and some were quite well off; all were bored, and all yearned for the trappings of celebrity. (One says vaguely, early on, that she’d like to be a fashion designer; you sense she doesn’t really want to be anything.) After the first robbery, which seems almost too easy to be true (movie-star addresses and whereabouts, they find, are easily obtained online), the group becomes addicted to the candy-store aspect of their new hobby. They take shoes that are too big, clothes they’ll never wear — just for the thrill of proximity to stardom, and just to alleviate the boredom of their lives.
There’s potential for interesting character exploration, but Coppola instead chooses dark humor, painting these empty-eyed teens as blank slates. Emma Watson, seemingly channeling a Valley Girl version of Kristen Stewart (sneering behind her sunglasses, she perfectly intones “toe-dully” for “totally”), is a kick, and Leslie Mann wafts amusingly through the movie as her equally vacant mother. Ultimately, though the pace is snappy, the film feels a little empty; these teens seem too soulless even for satire.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org