I’m half-inclined to believe that The Bling Ring‘s vapidity, shallowness, complete lack of humor (despite many attempts), absence of character depth and interesting dialogue — sorry, where was I? Right. I almost want to say that all of that stuff is The Bling Ring attempting to mimic its real-life-inspired characters and say something about them. “Ha, this is how stupid and awful they were in real life,” it says. And perhaps that’s the attempt. If you want entertainment from a movie, though — and most people do — this one doesn’t give you that.
In 2008 and 2009, a group of teenagers robbed the homes of several celebrities in California. In 2010, a Vanity Fair article was published about the thefts and the perpetrators behind them. In 2011, a Lifetime movie came out about the thefts. In 2013, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring comes to theaters, because teenagers stealing from celebrities hasn’t gotten enough coverage yet, apparently.
The lead character is Marc (Israel Broussard), who arrives at a “dropout school” in California and immediately befriends a popular girl, Rebecca (Katie Chang). Rebecca is obsessed with celebrities, and one night the two break into a celebrity’s house and steal some things. They get their friends involved. They do this over and over for the majority of the movie, all while thinking they’re the coolest cats who ever lived. Wait, do teenagers use “coolest cats” anymore? Am I too far removed from them already? Am I — gasp! — “old”?
Sorry. It’s hard to keep focused on writing a review when there’s not a whole lot to say about a movie that very well could have a lot to say but is too repetitive, dull, and (intentionally?) shallow to hold one’s attention. The teenagers steal and steal and party and take an egregious amount of selfies. And then they get caught. That’s basically where the movie ends. Spoiler alert. Yeah, it’s telling a true-to-life version of the story. The teenagers feel invincible and then they learn the lesson that they’re not. Hopefully other teenagers who watch this movie learn that lesson, too.
To be fair to the film, the teenagers might see themselves as glamorous, invincible, awesome, etc., but they’re never really painted that way by the filmmakers. It’s pretty clear (I hope) to the people watching it that they’re acting stupid, that they’re going too far, that they’re going to get caught. The film isn’t condoning their actions, nor is it promoting them. It’s making fun of them. It’s showing their stupidity in all its glory.
I just wish that was more fun. Past a certain point — about 30 minutes in — it stops being enjoyable and becomes grating. You can tolerate this for a certain amount of time, but it basically repeats itself for another 45 minutes afterward, before wrapping up quickly with the “they get caught” part. And since so much of the film’s content is intentionally stupid and annoying, you, well, have to sit through all of it. Being something intentionally, even when you have a point to make, doesn’t give you free license to do it to the point of irritation. That’s what The Bling Ring does.
None of this is engaging once you “get” what the film is trying to do. Most members of the audience will understand that after the half-hour mark, leaving the rest of the film repetitive and unenjoyable. If there were even hints of smarter dialogue or even two-dimensional characters, perhaps we’d feel like there was a reason to care. But none of that exists.
In fact, the dialogue and acting are so bad that you might want to turn off the film prior to even getting to the point. All of the young actors are so terrible that it’s hard to imagine that they’ll ever be good — and then you realize that two of them have proven to be good in the past, and you don’t understand how they could be so awful here. I’m talking about Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga, by the way. Much of the cast is made up of newcomers, so it’s hard to really blame them for being awful, but they’re dragging down real actors to their level. (Oh, and Emma Watson should stop attempting an American accent if it’s going to be like the one she tried here.)
In case my repetitious and shallow review hasn’t got you to figure it out, The Bling Ring is repetitious and shallow and while I’ll accept that’s the point, it’s just too much. Too uninteresting, too little worth seeing, and just not a whole lot of entertainment to be gained from watching it. There’s making a point and then there’s making the point at the cost of watchability and also hammering that point in multiple times to the point that both the point and the mallet with which you’re hammering it are broken to the point of being a shell of what they once were. That’s The Bling Ring.