The blurred line between ‘harmless fun’ and ‘crime’ is an interesting topic. There are films that shamelessly glamorize it with little to no consequences like 21 & Over, but there are also films that claim to go into the mindset of it. This was used to fantastic effect in this year’s Spring Breakers, and now Sofia Coppola’s new film The Bling Ring attempts to de-construct debauchery as well. The fact that this film tackles the same subject means that inevitable comparisons are going to occur, but the two films are quite different. And it’s a shame, too.
Based on real life events, The Bling Ring tells the story of Marc, a socially awkward, self-conscious teen who is approached and befriended on the first day of school by the fashion-obsessed, stuck up, valley girl and her posse. Because, y’know, that’s always how it happens. Anyway, Marc eventually gets caught up in their world of fashion, drugs, and crime, and they start to break into A-lister’s houses and steal their possessions. And guess what? That’s all that happens for the first hour of the movie.
That may sound like I’m exaggerating but I’m not, I swear. There’s maybe one other development other than what I’ve told you in the plot synopsis in the entire first hour in this 90 minute film. I wouldn’t mind so much, but they get to the actual robberies really quickly, so 45 minutes of the film is them going into a house, walking around, trying on clothes, talk in the most irritating way possible, get out, and maybe go to the club to show it off. They do this four, maybe five times. It’s like if you took the ‘trying on clothes’ montage in any teen movie ever, play it at normal speed with no cuts, and then drag it out for 45 minutes. Never has a film that’s only an hour and a half felt this boring.
The acting on the whole is decent, with Emma Watson obviously being the stand-out. She seems to be the centre point of the advertising, but do keep in mind, she is not the star of this film. She’s only in a supporting role. The actual star is one Israel Broussard as Marc, who also does a good job, but is stunted by the material. These are characters with no depth or personality beyond the typical ‘valley girl’ persona, and when you are forced to watch nothng but that for an hour and a half with no development at all past the first 15 minutes, it becomes very grating, very fast.
While more things happened in The Bling Ring‘s ending, it was exactly what you would expect and hammered in the ‘people who do bad things become celebrities and that’s bad’ message mercilessly. Where Spring Breakers felt like a carefully planned exploration of people who do these kinds of things, The Bling Ring just feels like it’s stumbling through it’s running time with little to no plan besides showing them steal things.
While the actors do the best they can, and the directing is competent and well-executed, the lack of story, character, or any real satire leaves this satirical de-construction in the dust. It’s a shame, because I feel there is a story that’s interesting here, and if you made up a story to go with it (hey, if Gangster Squad can still claim to be a true story, anything can happen) it could be really engaging. However, the film we’ve got is a shallow bit of film-making with hardly any reason to exist other than to show lots of expensive clothes. And I know this may sound irrelevant and it isn’t against the film in any way, but seriously, the vast majority of the designer clothes they try on look hideous.