Movie Review: The Bling Ring [2013]

The Bling Ring [2013]

The Bling Ring [2013]
Directors: Sofia Coppola
Screenplay: Sofia Coppola, Nancy Jo Sales
Genre: Crime/Drama
Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga
Running Time: 90 minutes

A funny thing happened while watching The Bling Ring. About halfway through the film, as the characters questioned their level of fame, my girlfriend whispered to me that “if this were real, they would have their own reality show by now.” When I informed her that the film is based on a true story, she couldn’t believe it (her prediction wasn’t too far off either — one of the girls actually was on a reality show called Pretty Wild, and of course, they also got a movie).

The concept behind The Bling Ring *is* absolutely ridiculous, and if it weren’t true, the film could easily be seen as a scathing satire of today’s obsession with celebrities and socialites.

The Bling Ring [2013]

When Marc Hall (Nick Prugo) transfers to a new high school, he quickly becomes friends with the fame-obsessed Rebecca Ahn (Rachel Lee). They bond over a joint or two before Rebecca gets a wild idea — why don’t they break into a rich home while the owners are out of town? Seemingly eager to make a new friend, Marc agrees, and the two of them hit up the abandoned house of an acquaintance. In there, they go to town, stealing clothes, jewelry, cash — basically anything that looks appealing to them.

Breaking into these mansions becomes a hobby for the two of them, and soon they have a few friends getting in on the action. Nicki (Emma Watson), Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe (Courtney Ames) are more than willing to join them, especially once they start targeting the homes of celebrities. Paris Hilton, in particular, is hit multiple times while she’s out of town. Her house is the easiest to get into — she simply leaves the keys under the doormat (why is that not surprising?).

The Bling Ring [2013]

The five of them continue robbing these targets over and over again, occasionally bringing more friends (and even Sam’s 13-year-old sister) along. They use their newfound money to buy even more clothes and jewelry, not to mention bags of coke when possible. They are “living the life”, at least in their eyes.

Of course, as this is based on a true story, there is no happy ending for these delinquents. This is shown as such at the beginning of the film when we hear Nicki give a spectacularly ditzy update to the press (“I might want to be the leader of a country someday, for all I know”). Emma Watson nails this role, expertly portraying the overwhelming superficiality present in her character. In fact, this entire group of young actors all excel here, with newcomer Israel Broussard being a major highlight as well.

The Bling Ring [2013]

At times, The Bling Ring feels like a bit much. Most of the film shows these kids getting high and breaking into homes, and none of the characters are exactly likeable. Director Sofia Coppola (responsible for two genuinely great films — Lost in Translation and the underrated Somewhere) nails the party lifestyle that this group so actively pursues, but the film may be too repetitive for its own good. Did we really need to see them go nuts over finding more Louboutin, Rolexes and other designer items more than two or three times? We see them break into Hilton’s home on multiple occasions — though I’m sure she loves the attention (her real house was even used in the movie, and she makes a cameo appearance).

Still, The Bling Ring is an entertaining film. There is something alluring about the trash culture that our society is so enamored with these days, and this film puts that all on display, for better or for worse.


Movie Review: Somewhere [2010]

Somewhere [2010]

Somewhere [2010]
Director: Sofia Coppola
Genre: Drama
Language: English/Italian
Country: USA

Somewhere opens with a shot of a black Ferrari aimlessly driving around in circles in an open area. This goes on for a few minutes, after which popular actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) steps out and gazes into the horizon. End scene. This minimalistic shot sets the stage for the rest of the movie, one that most either seem to love or hate, with very few settling somewhere in between.

Johnny Marco is an apathetic actor who shows little emotion to what surrounds his life. Twin strippers, hotel parties, movie press conferences — he seems disillusioned by it all. As he inches through his life, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) is left to live with him for an undetermined amount of time by his ex-wife. This brings a sense of change to Johnny’s life, and now he has no choice but to begin to show some signs of responsibility.

Somewhere [2010]

Not a lot happens in Somewhere. The movie focuses on Johnny’s life outside of the movies and it shows the strain of his relationship with his daughter, but there are no major events that take place. We are merely taken in on a period of this movie star’s life, one who is marred with some sort of depression. Director Sofia Coppola lets the film crawl along, often invoking the use of extended scenes, many of which will leave some people scratching their heads in bewilderment. Occasional quirks are brought up but never resolved. I found these traits to be enjoyable and oftentimes humorous, but it’s easy to see how they could bother certain audiences.

The best moments in Somewhere happen when both Johnny and Cleo are on screen together. Their relationship is simplistic, but there is noticeable chemistry between the two. This is helped by strong performances from the two leads. Stephen Dorff is effective at showing minimal emotion, and Elle Fanning’s acting feels natural and authentic. Since the movie is strictly about these two characters, there aren’t many noteworthy roles played by others. A seemingly random selection of Chris Pontius (of Jackass fame) plays Johnny’s friend and roommate, Michelle Monaghan plays an actress that he has worked with before, and Ellie Kemper (The Office) briefly escorts Johnny around in Italy.

Somewhere [2010]

While Somewhere’s slow pace sometimes works against itself, I found the movie to be a very interesting character study overall. It requires a fair amount of patience and the right mindset, but if you are willing to stick with it you should be able to get something out of it. While not up to the level of Lost In Translation, Somewhere is still an involving experience that can be utterly compelling at times.