Review: “Bling Ring” stylish, lacks substance

Review: “Bling Ring” stylish, lacks substance

June 19
13:46 2013

James Clay / Intern

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Writer-director Sophia Coppola, best known for 2003’s art-house darling “Lost In Translation,” has achieved great heights in terms of her career as a filmmaker dually because of the credibility of her last name and the amount of success she has garnered in the world of independent cinema.

Coppola’s latest effort “The Bling Ring,” takes an all-too-familiar look at the materialistic ideals of America’s youth and their obsession with the spotlight. Even though the film’s style and content is well packaged, Coppola misses the opportunity to add any depth to the flimsy characters.

“The Bling Ring” tells the true story based on “The Subjects Wore Louboutins,” a “Vanity Fair” article about five teens from Southern California who rob their celebrity idols, such as Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan among others.

These teenagers have zero restrictions put on them, which extends to their high school and home lives. Of course, with this type of mentality they exercise this false sense of independence and take part in shallow pastimes like using drugs, partying all night and surfing the pop culture website TMZ.

Coppola brings up pertinent social issues such as teen sexuality and the narcissism of upper-class teenagers. In spite of this, “The Bling Ring” fails to follow through on examining these themes.

The filmmakers, for some odd reason, decide to beat the audience over the head with how shallow these characters are, with a minimal amount of character development along the way. Instead, the film is more interested in the action side of the story, like the robberies and partying. Consequently, when the film does try to evoke some pathos from its subjects, it doesn’t carry any emotional weight.

The antiheroes’ character arcs fall flat and the audience rarely sees the motivations or the repercussions of the amateur thieves’ actions.

A few familiar faces will keep the audience members engaged to a certain extent. Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame and Taissa Farminga, who previously starred in the hit television series “American Horror Story,” play two friends who are now sisters by adoption. These two actresses are the only notable performances in the film.

Each of Coppola’s films have eclectic aesthetic characteristics, which is a credit to how versatile she is as a director. Despite its weak writing, “The Bling Ring” is her most ambitious film in terms of visual style since “Lost In Translation.”

The film has a music video feel throughout, with glamorous shots of celebrities partying in lavish night clubs and young socialites driving luxury vehicles, which portrays the film’s atmosphere quite well. Coppola does use an interesting technique in setting up the film as a vérité style documentary that pays homage to reality television.

“The Bling Ring” is a rather shallow look at even shallower people. The film fails to delve into the psyche of these privileged teens. This is not a bad film by any stretch, as its distinctive style and veteran filmmaking carry this story to moderate success. However, despite its intentions, it probably should have just stayed on the printed page.

“The Bling Ring” opens Friday.

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