tue 21/11/2017

The Bling Ring | reviews, news & interviews

The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring

Emma Watson gives her best performance yet in Sofia Coppola's sardonic true-crime story

Almost famous: the real Bling Ring stole $3m of property from Hollywood celebrities

Sofia Coppola has become known for lovingly sketching out the tribulations of the rich and famous, and reviews of her 2010 Chateau Marmont-set angst fest Somewhere made it clear that critics’ patience with that particular seam had waned. But it has become easy to forget Coppola’s debut film in all this, because it doesn’t fit the pattern.

While The Bling Ring deals overtly with fame and the desperate pursuit of it, emotionally it has more in common with 1999’s The Virgin Suicides, a wistful study of disaffected girls whose suicidal behaviour seemed almost involuntary, almost predetermined. There’s a similarly listless quality to the heists carried out here by the eponymous Ring, which comprises five bored Hollywood Hills teenagers out for a more ambitious and exclusive brand of kicks.

Desperately craving the fame that surrounded them but lacking the talent or connections to secure it, the real-life group stole millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry and clothing from the homes of celebrities including Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Rachel Bilson, using social media sites and scheduled public appearances to determine when they were out. The beautiful irony of this story is that when they were finally apprehended, the teens – played here by Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard and Claire Julien – ended up in the very same slammer where several of their idols had done their own time.

Emma Watson in 'The Bling Ring'Coppola has a firm handle both on the culture her characters inhabit and on their youthful dynamics. While the performances are far from nuanced, there’s a loose naturalism to their interactions that goes some way to mitigating just how little there is to like about any of them; they may be vile, but they’re also believably young. If you’re feeling charitable, there’s even something sad about their glassy-eyed glee as they trawl through strangers’ possessions, a group of haves who see themselves as have-nots.

Watson’s acting chops have always been questionable, both within the Potter series and in more recent fare like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but she’s something of a revelation here. Playing the spoiled and self-deluded Nicki, she’s asked to shoulder many of the film’s most ludicrous and sardonic beats, and she proves herself more than up to the task.

There’s undeniably a repetitive bent to the robbery sequences, but what keeps them consistently compelling – killer Sleigh Bells soundtrack aside – is the parasitic edge that creeps in. These kids don’t just want to take nice things from their idols; they want to inhabit their lives. They try on their clothes, lounge on their beds. When they accrue a new favourite celebrity, their first question is “Can you find out where she lives?” Admiring from afar, in the age of minute-to-minute status updates, is no longer enough, and Coppola has captured this troubling moment of modern truth in a glossy, shrewd snapshot. 

These kids don’t just want to take nice things from their idols; they want to inhabit their lives

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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