The Bling Ring Review

The Plot:

Based on real life events and inspired by a Vanity Fair article, The Bling Ring tells the story of a group of celebrity obsessed Californian teenagers who went of a $3million crime spree by burglarizing the homes of wealthy Hollywood stars like Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

The Good:

Director Sofia Coppola combines a typically well-chosen soundtrack with knowingly flashy visuals to paint a garish portrait of self-entitled adolescents utterly fixated on fame and material pleasures. The overall result is a mostly fun ride that sprinkles humour and cynicism in among piles of luxurious designer handbags and fashionably uncomfortable looking shoes. The film feels like a hedonistic plunge into the lurid waters of envious desperation and misguided teen angst.

In a cast of freshly discovered newcomers, Emma Watson is the only recognizable member of the actual Bling Ring burglary gang. She actually holds her own surprisingly well among the carefully selected cast, successfully transforming from prissy Hermione into a pouting wannabe Hollywood princess. Those unconvinced by the pretty Harry Potter starlet’s acting credentials will at least have to acknowledge her mastery of a nasal American drawl that is both perpetually disinterested and instantly contemptible.

It’s actually newcomers Katie Chang and Israel Broussard that take center stage as the ringleaders of the pubescent burglary gang. They give convincingly unlikable but at least understandable performances as the casual criminal masterminds. Leslie Mann also provides some nice comic moments as an amusingly atrocious mother, home schooling her brattish children with cringe worthy self-help mantras and homemade shrines to Angelina Jolie.

At best the film is a well-timed warning about the inherent dangers of unrestrained greed for beautiful things and beautiful people.

The Bad:

Anyone watching The Bling Ring simply for a sneaky glimpse inside the lavish supposed homes of Hollywood stars or because of the promise of actual celebrity cameos will likely be left unsatisfied. Real life victim Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst might have made the cast list, but they grace the screen for a matter of split seconds. Such audiences might also feel increasingly awkward as the film plays out the grim consequences of taking vapid celebrity obsessions to extremes.

It’s a little ironic that the main allure of a film making a thinly veiled attack on a pervasive culture of greed, excesses and celebrity is actually a graphic depiction of crimes sensationalized purely by their famous victims. The harshest critics might even argue that deliberately ‘glamourizing’ these real life events on screen is part of the precise problems the film laments in its later stages.

There’s a clear risk that audiences may also find the selfish self-entitlement of this juvenile gang of thieves simply too obnoxious to be understood or tolerated for prolonged periods. Even if you give the film credit for being a knowing satire, the inability to slap it’s protagonists in the face may still frustrate you.

The Ugly Truth:

The Bling Ring grabs and effectively holds audience’s attention with a well compiled mash of lurid sights and sounds, but for all its simulated glamour it remains at heart a simple cautionary tale. However, it is a little unclear if the moral of this enjoyably trashy tale is to avoid obsessive star struck greed or simply to avoid committing grand theft. Overall the film is a willfully guilty pleasure. Fueled by Gucci envy, gangster flavoured pop music and a seriously misplaced American dream.

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