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Standout Performance By Watson Saves The Bling Ring

Posted on the 21 June 2013 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

Hmmm, rich, vapid young teens who are bored with the mundane lifestyles of their own opulent lives  decided to go on a crime spree that involves stealing from rich celebrities because there is nothing better to do with their time.  That is the basic premise behind Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and surprisingly the actual real life events that were just juicy pieces of tabloid trash and upscale magazine fillers.  Anything dealing with the rich and famous will get the masses interested and the real life crime spree that these teens did was almost too good to pass up.

I can see why Coppola decided to make this sort of movie or at least adapt the story to the big screen.  This story was the center of a Vanity Fair article on the teens and their notorious crimes against celebrities.  It went into detail about the robberies of Lohan, Hilton, Bloom and other celebrities that call Beverly Hills their home.  The story then turned into a Lifetime movie called Bling Ring and now Coppola gets to do yet another movie about the supposed banality of the rich and affluent.  If anything, it just solidifies my assumption that Sofia only likes to do movie that involve rich white people and their rich white people problems.  Sigh, being wealthy, gorgeous, glamorous and young is so tiring and banal.

The Bling Ring 1b

For those not in the know or don’t read celebrity rags, The Bling Ring is the story about a young group of teens who happen to moonlight as a group of celebrity house robbing miscreants.  They famously broke into the house of Paris Hilton and other “it” celebrities, amassing somewhere near 3 million dollars worth of cash, clothes, and jewelry.  The group of teens in the movie have their real life names altered, not sure why, and are portrayed admirably by a strong cast of new faces and anchored by Emma Watson.

There isn’t really much else to the story of the film as you are watching them rob celebrity houses blind, go on spending sprees as teens do with excess cash, muse about the latest celebrity news and generally be vapid teens.  Their brazen crimes and successes eventually create a larger than life persona for the teens as they brag about their crimes, which is their downfall.  Also modern security cameras and alarms also play a part in this.  But Coppola manages to make the hum drum tabloid story into something more, a shiny and glitzy movie that is about as pretty as the things the teens steal.  Coppola does have a gorgeous style to her movies, weaving pretty sights, elegant music choices and snappy pacing to her advantage that does make a simple story better than it should be.  That can only get you so far though with a movie where the audience is supposed to sympathize with the characters…or not…I am not certain what the point of the movie is about, honestly.  Am I supposed to care about the celebrities being stolen from or am I having to care about the teens and their criminal ways?  We'll get to that gripe in a moment.

Aside from the visual flairs that Sofia brings to the table, there are two really amazing performances that are sure to be talked about.  First there is the obvious Emma Watson role as the ring leader Nicki, a celebrity lifestyle obsessed teen who is self-absorbed, but maniacal and unforgiving.  Watson just owns this role, a complete departure from her Harry Potter persona, she dives into the mindset of a young teen raised on pop culture.  Obsessive, demanding, and not giving a shit about what she has done, just constantly craving more and more fame.

The other star of the film will be one to watch in the coming years, a literal new face of young Hollywood, Katie Chang as Rebecca.  My Lord, this young starlet is gorgeous and sells the role of Rebecca as a sort of use and abuse teen stealer.  The way is able to manipulate some of the characters in the flick is almost disarming when she turns on the innocence.  It is weird to say this, but all the teens in the movie were really good at portraying these fame seeking, culture junkies.  It is a bit fitting I guess since they themselves are pursuing the Hollywood path of fame.

The Bling Ring 1a

Now I come back to my central complaint of the movie and what really digs at me as a viewer.  The pretty people, the pretty pictures and the pretty music does make for a pretty movie, but what is the overall goal that Coppola is going for here?  What is the end game of this movie supposed to be about?  While I was watching this movie, I could care less about the despicable people doing the robbing.  Am I supposed to mine some sort of commentary from all this about the fame obsession that is constantly being fed to our youth through magazines, television shows, and the general pedestal that we put celebrities on?  Are the robberies being committed by them some sort of extension of our longing to be famous, even if it is just a proxy of pretending to live like them through the fancy clothes, spending of cash or even hitting up the hot spot clubs?

Hell the teens literally step into the shoes of the famous people they are robbing.  I guess that is about all the symbolism we are getting from Coppola, since there is nothing else to the movie.  If the aim is to recreate the events of the robberies, then bravo Coppola cause that is all this is.  If you wanted to make some sort of satirical commentary on the 24-7 coverage  of rich lifestyles and the length that teens yearn for fame, then it was completely missed.  We get few ironic moments of fame like when one of the characters gush about spending time in the same jail cell as a celebrity or when their crimes spree brings them a small bit of fame.  It is blunt and uninteresting, never being explored further as Coppola wants to just go back to the shiny story of celebrity robbing teens. We only get to see the skimming of the surface on the topic of celebrity obsession as Coppola would rather just film glamorous things and glamorous people.  If she wants to do just that (considering her previous films subject matter) then let her revive “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” because that is about what this movie amounts to.

Save for the stylish visuals that turns the lives of celebrities and their things into stars themselves and the solid acting from Watson and Chang, this movie would have been a complete dud in my eyes.  What could have had a lot of bling, only can muster a dull luster to the proceedings.  Let me put it this way, what could have been a sparkling diamond, we get a cheap cubic zirconia.  It still looks pretty though, but it’s not the real deal.

Rating: 2 knock-off Gucci handbags out of 5

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