The Bling Ring
A young cast and the promise of a turning it around performance from Emma Watson had my interest, as did this strange but true story of privileged kids who thought that they had a right to anything without any consequence and without a single thought for the people they were stealing from.
Saying all that the trailers for the film did feel more Antoinette than Translation with the pounding soundtrack taking over the trailer and being by far the main selling point, that and Watson being sexy. Seriously, that's what the first trailer sold is on and the second trailer did little more. So what of the film? It was a packed press and industry screening that's for sure.
Sofia Coppola's latest is based on an incredible true story. A group of L.A. high school friends track the activities of celebrities online so that they can rob their homes. Motivated less by greed than by a fascination with status brands and famous people, the gang target Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Lindsay Lohan and others, bragging of their intimacy with their victims. A biting, stylish take on celebrity culture. All screenings of The Bling Ring will have audio description, via infra-red headsets, for those who are sight-impaired.
Followed by the trailer:
It's disappointing for those who were thinking or rather hoping like me for a film that was more like Lost in Translation, one that was much more substance over style. The Bling Ring is far more Bling than anything else and it carries a style and a score that reflects the trailer and like the trailer, not a lot more.
The film does open interestingly enough and piques the interest early, there's a desire to find out something more behind these kids or at least see them pay for what they are doing and how badly they are treating people. Still despite that desire I didn't feel I was grabbed or hooked in at all during the film and I just slipped away bit by bit.
The first robberies do provide for a little excitement raising the danger level, as well as the idea of the double life of these kids but all that soon fades as we start seeing robbery after robbery with no real point or explanation. Without any real story or character development it soon feels repetitive and rather tiring. For a good while I was wondering what was going to happen and what we were going to see all the time we wondered through robbery after robbery although not really going anywhere new.
From early on we saw how vacuous, selfish and utterly uncaring these characters were and they didn't progress from there just reinforced those already realised impressions. The male characterMarc, played by Israel Broussard, did offer a little as he seemed to be the one that was scared, the one that had something more to his character and human to him to connect with the audience and yet he never really moved far from where he began. Otherwise the characters just kept doing what they were doing - getting high and drunk, driving around, breaking and entering, stealing and using people - eventually showing us how self-obsessed and uncaring for others they were by turning on their families and each other.
There were some nicely shot scenes during the robberies, some nice houses and great interiors, there was also a great musical score to go along with the film.
Another good thing about the film that is well worth mentioning is Emma Watson, she does really well in a turnaround performance to shrug off her famous franchise role. While the accent seems a little odd at times, as does the smoking, she does show an interesting character and you can't help but think if she was given more we could have been talking more about her performance. Her character more than any reflect the emptiness and selfishness of the kids.
It really is difficult to connect with the story when you can't connect with the characters, and I guess that is a little difficult to do when the real life characters themselves are so empty and uncaring. The problem there though is that without that connection the story has to hook us in and really I couldn't find anything to draw me in.
The story feels rather fractured and, as I said already, doesn't really deliver anything. There's no real feeling of an ending or of the characters having any outcome from these events other than getting fifteen minutes of some kind of fame. We were told the story as it happened, without any judgements or insights or even something to allow us to make our own, other than of course these kids are selfish idiots.
On paper, or the web, The Bling Ring seems an interesting story and one that might offer us an insight into perhaps personality, modern rich kids, or how we interact with the image of rich famous people. As it happens it doesn't and ultimately the film was as vacuous and as empty as the characters themselves.
The highlights of the film are the soundtrack and seeing Emma Watson playing this unappealing American character, and while there are hints at something that could be said about personality or the values of these types of young people and their parents, really it gives us nothing and appears more style than substance.
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