Movie Reviews

‘The Bling Ring’: A hollow showcase of youth hooked on brand obsession and drugs

By Faz Abdul GaffaMovies - 12 September 2013 1:00 AM

‘The Bling Ring’: A hollow showcase of youth hooked on brand obsession and drugs

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

It’s a giddy teenage crime spree – but instead of shoplifting at local malls, these teens burgled the homes of Tinseltowners and got away with US$3 million in cash and belongings.

Based on true events that happened in Los Angeles between October 2008 to August 2009, this movie lets director Sophia Coppola indulge in her preoccupation with the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as with her last three movies, ‘Lost in Translation’, ‘Marie Antoinette’ and ‘Somewhere’.

This time, instead of the view from the celebrity bubble looking out, Coppola flips it around to show us some of those hungrily looking in. 

Set to a suitably brash soundtrack of modern hip-hop and indie rock, the cast of mostly unknowns, helped by Emma Watson (Hermione Granger of ‘Harry Potter’ fame) goes “shopping” in celebrity homes on the infamous Hollywood Hills.

They rob the homes of Paris Hilton, Audrina Patrigde, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr, and among their most celebrated triumphs, the home of Lindsay Lohan.

To know when to strike, the teens simply surfed gossip sites to check if the celebrity is out of town, or when they would be out to a party. And yes, you can get Orlando Bloom’s address off Google.

cry baby
'The Bling Ring'

TONED DOWN UGLINESS 

The real-life Bling Ring was a group driven by hedonism and fuelled by a celebrity obsession and heroin, but Coppola admitted that her film pulled back on the ugliness that happened.

The perpetrators on screen, who were running on booze and other forms of drugs, delivered strong performances. It’s not every day that you get to watch Hermoine Granger pull off a Valley girl accent and do a pole dance. Ring leader Rebecca, played by newcomer Katie Chang, delivers a too-cool-to-care demeanour that makes her a 17-year-old to keep on your radar. 

Coppola directs all this with her usual deadpan cool, often coupled with satirical gold that you cannot miss. However, she failed to give more dimension to her characters.

Yes, we know that they love their Louboutins, but there must have been something depressingly empty about the Bling Ring’s lives to result in the sociopathic nature of their crimes, after all. 

Like her films ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and ‘Lost in Translation,’ these girls (and a boy) are lost, too. Coppola has a grasp of the story, but ‘The Bling Ring’ needed to be given more than Chanel bags to make this movie a must-watch.

What is certain is, this movie is a time capsule of the celebrity obsession of our time.

‘The Bling Ring’ opens in cinemas 12 September