05/07/2013

The Bling Ring

Whether or not you're going to enjoy The Bling Ring depends on two things: your tolerance for Sofia Coppola's slow-burn indie style and how much you enjoy seeing some spoiled, vacant teenagers ransack people's homes with reckless abandon. When the real thefts occurred in late-2008 to mid-2009 it became a fascinating story as not only did it highlight how mass consumerism was linked to the new type of "famous for the sake of being famous" celebrity, it was a unique situation because many of the victims had so much in common with the perpetrators. You'd think that with a story like this Coppola would actually have something to say about culture, celebrity and the way it can and has affected a generation but instead she does what she does best; craft pretty montages set to cool music while saying absolutely nothing about anything.

Marc (Israel Broussard) is new in town and quickly taken under the wing of ice-cold Rebecca (Rachel Lee) who has a thing for celebrities and the clothes they wear. Thanks to some nifty Googling and some shockingly lax security (Honestly, who the hell leaves a spare key under the mat in 2008?), they start visiting and re-visiting the homes of their idols for clothes, jewellery, money and anything they can flog afterward. While Coppola makes each robbery as unique as she can (the visit Audrina Patridge's home is particularly pretty), it quickly becomes repetitive and a bit dull, with each crime less impactful than the last one.

True, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan aren't exactly the world's most upstanding individuals but the kids aren't country bumpkins seduced by the world of fame, celebrity and designer labels. They all live in affluent neighbourhoods, go to a good school and are so close to their victims they frequent the same clubs. When they spot Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst in the same place they don't freak out and beg for autographs, pictures and to get anywhere near them, they just shrug and continue taking selfies and applying lipgloss. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them or the victims? Because I'm not sure, and I don't think the director is either.

The music, the acting and the visual style are all present but Coppola's refusal to say anything ultimately makes The Bling Ring a frustrating and pointless experience that's as vacuous and empty as the people it's based upon.