Published on October 9th, 2014 | by Clint Davis
The Bling Ring 
Summary: Not Coppola's best work. This dramedy gets lost in its own satire, coming off as vapid as its lead characters. If wannabe reality stars is all the next generation has to offer, God save us all.
R | 90 mins.
Director & Screenplay: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson
U.S. Box Office: $5,845,732
I can’t decide if I’m a Sofia Coppola fan or not. For years, I’ve considered myself an adamant admirer of her work — even verbally telling people, “I’m a huge Sofia Coppola fan,” when one of her movies would come up for discussion. But now that I really think about it, that may be complete bullshit.
She is the definition of a hit-or-miss director in my opinion. While 2003’s Lost in Translation and 2010’s Somewhere are flawless films and among my favorites of the last 15 years, it’s the bad apples of her filmography that ruin the bunch. The Virgin Suicides, her debut feature was a pretentious flick that bored me to tears even if the ending was pretty great, and not even diehard Coppola nuts could get into Marie Antoinette. On second thought, maybe my issue lies with Kirsten Dunst…
Which leads me to Coppola’s newest film, The Bling Ring. This 2013 effort is frustrating from the start because it’s not funny enough to be a comedy but way too lighthearted to be a drama — sending it somewhere in the limbo-esque middle ground typically occupied, and dominated, by Wes Anderson. What aims to be a biting satire of the shallow aspirations of modern teenagers ends up with nothing more to say than, ‘These people are idiots, don’t be like them.’
The cast is slightly bigger than Coppola’s normal comfort zone, a core group of five central characters are supported by a gaggle of supporting players with few lines each and a handful of celebrity cameos round it out. From a director that is extremely gifted in creating small, intimate pictures, it feels like not enough time is spent developing the characters in The Bling Ring and most end up becoming nothing more than crude caricatures. The film’s plot is based on the true story of a group of southern California teens who decided to break into various celebrity homes, stealing anything glamorous they could get their hands on. The young thieves used internet celeb-gossip blogs to figure out when the stars would be away from home in planning their break-ins.
Names of the real members of the “Bling Ring”, as a magazine article dubbed them, are changed but the film projects them as the most vapid group of kids you would ever hope to meet. This group represents everything that average people hate about Hollywood — expensive clothes, shitty attitudes, entitled attitudes and dreams of becoming reality television stars…also an affinity for tucking sweatpants into Ugg boots. Let’s just say you wouldn’t date these chicks for their conversation skills.
Emma Watson shows up as top-billing in most promotional material you see for The Bling Ring, but if you expect this to be her show, you’ll be disappointed. While Watson’s Nicki Moore is arguably the most self-absorbed person in the gang, its leads are unknown actors Katie Chang and Israel Broussard.
Chang, reportedly only 16 at the time of shooting, is the most memorable part of this film and could certainly develop into a serious screen talent. As ringleader Rebecca Ahn, Chang successfully toys with the audience, making you love and loath her in equal doses in what ultimately becomes a villainous turn. Meanwhile, I was less sold on her co-star Broussard. I will preface by saying he had the toughest role of the film, as his Marc Hall is one of the few characters to show emotional range, but I had a hard time taking him seriously as the most thoughtful member of the group. Of course, calling someone the most thoughtful member of this lot is akin to picking out the skinniest kid at fat camp.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention my personal favorite cast member/character, actress Claire Julien as the group’s resident hardass, Chloe Tainer. Julien is a statuesque blonde stunner with oversized sunglasses, a cigarette hanging from her lips and the kind of bored expression that scared the hell out of guys like me in high school. She may represent the best piece of casting in the picture. Also, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by the movie’s soundtrack (Coppola’s movies are usually loaded with great music), the highlight came during the end credits when Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” blared as a pseudo-theme song.
With this picture, Coppola is taking a swipe at the entire Facebook generation — saying they are more concerned with their profile photos than becoming leaders in society. I would like to think that only a minority of kids today look up to Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan as idols but this movie makes our prospects look much more dim. The bright director missed the mark on this flick, making for an awkward picture that is best watched with a group so you can groan in unison at the atrocious lines these characters utter (“Hells yeah.”).
Coppola’s career record in my book falls to 2-3, which is fine if you’re the Cleveland Browns but just bad enough for my fandom to waver.
And it can’t be a coincidence that Kirsten Dunst pops up in a cameo, can it?