Monday, September 30, 2013

Review 207: "The Bling Ring"

"I think this situation is a huge learning lesson
for me."

Robbery is a Girl's Best Friend

      The Bling Ring is a 2013 film based on the true story of the "Bling  Ring" a group of teenagers from LA that stole from the houses of celebrities in 2008 and 2009. The film is directed and written by Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and follows a group a teenagers that decide to rob celebrities' houses, oddly enough. The "Bling Ring" is made up by the mastermind Rebecca (Katie Chang), the lookout Chloe (Claire Julian), the right-hand man Marc (Israel Broussard), the wild card Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and the star Nicki (Emma Watson) and together they rob the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Rachel Bilson. Hijinks ensue.

Like, those pajamas are sooo cute!
The Shallow End

      It's all the same kinda interesting and kinda disappointing that the movie The Bling Ring reminded me the most of while I was watching it was Spring Breakers. They both star previously famous child stars in raunchy roles playing characters obsessed with modern-day celebrity culture that they eventually turn to crime in order to experience it. It interesting to draw the parallels from the two very different in style movies. And yet is't also disappointing at just how much weaker The Bling Ring is to Spring Breakers and to many other movies in fact. Despite the good director, solid cast and interesting story, The Bling Ring is kinda a mess. Most of that seems to be attributed to the fact that, even though it might seem perfect for adapting, the actually "Bling Ring's" story doesn't transfer particularly well to screen here. The characters are about as shallow as it gets. The film does flirt with the possible reasons why they are conducting these heists outside of "because they could", but ultimately a lot of potentially interesting character developments are sidelined for the many, many robberies. As a result, the characters never evolve beyond being douchey teenagers committing crimes, it gets really hard to like they characters, especially since most of them are unrepentant about their crimes.

One Shot

      But, unfortunately, a lot of the film's problems also has to be played on the shoulders for director Coppola. She approaches the film in a simple fashion (Pun intended). MAny scenes are one big shot or a long scene with little cuts and there are numerous times when the camera complete stands still. While not a bad style and actually one of the film's high-points, the movie struggles with the pacing this creates. The first hour is almost entirely comprised of the heists, with the aftermath only in the final twenty minutes. We therefore are stuck with the underdeveloped, unlikable characters without anything really going wrong for them. This also means we see about ten or so robberies, which is a few more than necessary and makes the film feel fairly repetitive. After about the seventh heist or so, you'd wish the film would move on, but sadly that never does really come. There are even scenes that look really interesting, like when they find a gun during one of the robberies, only for the scene to get tossed aside for the next theft. It's not really bad, just not as good as it could have been. And that seems to be the problem with this film. The subject matter is interesting and ready for a film adaptation. However, here, it's done in a pretty unremarkable way. It's not bad, but you see the potential and you'd wish the film would see it too.

OH. MY. GOD. Those shoes with those pants!?!
The Verdict

      The Bling Ring is ultimately spending too much time in the shallow end of the story. The characters are never developed much and end up as one-note, unlikable jerks. The story slogs through heist after heist, only briefly touching on some more interesting plot points. And the film's pacing takes it's time a little too much. resulting in an unfortunately repetitive film with unlikable characters and a story that squanders it's most interesting bits. A real miss. The Bling Ring gets 3 stars out of 6. 

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