The Bling Ring (2013)

The Bling Ring

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Cast: Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang

Synopsis: A group of fame obsessed teenagers begin a crime spree in which they rob celebrities

As you may remember, I included The Bling Ring on my High-lights and Downers of 2013 post about a month and a half ago. I raved about this movie and I would go as far to say that it was my favourite film from last year. I feel bad for saying that because I have seen 12 Years a Slave and that was a brilliant film but there’s something about The Bling Ring that is so fun and contemporary that it’s really hard for me not to sing its praises.

Everyone knows what this film is about. It’s a movie based on a real-life series of events in which a bunch of spoilt teens robbed a ton of celebrities, taking millions in swag. Now, when you consider the plot, you’d think that you would judge these kids and think of them as common crooks. The funny thing though is that, when you watch this movie, you don’t. Sofia Coppola is very careful to remain objective in this movie. She doesn’t lead you down a path and show you what to feel. Just like in Lost in Translation, Coppola lets the lives of the characters unfold in front of you and she allows the audience to cultivate their own thoughts through empathy. In that way, The Bling Ring feels a lot like a documentary but is there really anything to empathise with? The answer is ‘yes,’ surprisingly. The empathy comes from Israel Broussard and Katie Chang’s characters.

When these kids rob Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Megan Fox and others, the camera is (for the most part) paced at eyelevel and moves with them as they move from room to room. You become part of their group and you are in amongst them as they try on clothes and jewellery worth thousands of dollars and no-one is ever going to know if you take it. Some of the characters steal because no-one is telling them that they can’t. However, for Broussard and Chang, you can see that they steal for deeper, more emotional reasons. Coppola doesn’t explicitly reveal what those reasons are but it’s suggested that they are very unhappy with their home lives. Robbing celebrities gives them a way out and an opportunity to live the lives they want. It’s a shallow life, sure, but who doesn’t want nice things?

Another great thing about this movie is that it questions the effect Facebook and social media is having on the younger generations, albeit in a very subtle way. On Facebook everyone wants to make it look like their life is awesome. You want everyone to see you going to all the hottest spots and generally having a good time. Unfortunately, life isn’t always sugar and rainbows. However, if you’re a privileged kid with bad parents then you’re unlikely to realise that. These kids get exposed to all the worst aspects of social media and fall for its allure by posting pictures of themselves with all their swag and huge wads of cash. There are extended scenes where there is no dialogue and the characters just take selfies of themselves and post them to Facebook or Twitter. I know a shocking amount of people (mostly younger than I am) who do this so I was amused and horrified by how accurately Coppola depicts this.

After watching this movie, I was so glad that I grew up at a time when the internet was not as developed as it is now. I didn’t get Facebook until I was 18 and there was no pressure to show my friends how awesome I was….mainly because I wasn’t. While the kids in The Bling Ring were out doing drugs and going to clubs at age 16, I was in my room reading or playing on my Nintendo. Having said that, I understand why these kids did the things that they did and it was a wild ride to see them actually doing it. What’s more shocking was how easy it was for them to do it and get away with it. Maybe I should give up journalism and blogging and become a full-time celebrity mugger.

High-lights:

  • The cast is great. Broussard and Chang add a subtly depth to their characters while Emma Watson is wonderful comic relief. She can really do comedy quite well.
  • Banging soundtrack. Having done this I can confirm that driving along the pacific coast highway listening to gangster rap or M.I.A. is one of life’s greatest pleasures….I wouldn’t do it on coke though.
  • “OMG you guys, this is Balmain. Sooo cuuute.” *Discards the top and picks something else up.
  • Trippy and beautiful scenes that are great after smoking. The one with Katie Chang looking in the mirror whilst spraying Lindsay Lohan’s perfume was fantastic. Strangely sinister too.
  • The movie felt really contemporary and I feel as though Coppola really understood the modern teenager’s mind-set.
  • Paris Hilton’s house is hysterical and it is ACTUALLY her house. She has a cage with a monkey in it by the front door. Who the fuck does that!?

Downers:

  • I guess this film made me feel like a bad person in some ways because if you told me when I was living in LA that I could break into Paris Hilton’s home and take some stuff, I would probably do it.

Summary:

When The Bling Ring was released, it generally received positive reviews but nowhere near as glowing as the one I’m giving it. I think that this is a shame and I hope that, in the future, The Bling Ring will be seen as a modern masterpiece. It’s smart, funny, innovative, and it makes a point about modern society in an unobvious and gentle way. Although maybe not as good as Lost In Translation, I would say that it’s not too far behind. This film is another fine addition to my ‘Mind Blowingly Awesome’ list.

10/10

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7 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome

7 responses to “The Bling Ring (2013)

  1. I didn’t see this movie because critical response was actually generally negative. That said, I think you convinced me to maybe give this movie a rental.

    Admittedly, I wonder what my life would’ve been like if I had Facebook since I was younger; I opened my account for the first time when I was 17. Even at the university age, I see people going the extra mile in trying to make their lives seem perfect, even frequently taking a picture of what they had for lunch and Instragram-ing it with the implied subtext, “Look how cool I am! I can *afford* to go somewhere ‘exotic’ for lunch!” That even applies to pictures of a sandwich at Collegetown Bagels in Ithaca, New York. There are actual studies done that show people are less happy because they compare their REAL lives to what they see others are doing on Facebook; inevitably, real life seems disappointing in comparison.

    • I’m glad that you’re willing to give the movie a try. Let me know what you think.

      I’m so glad Facebook was not around when I was younger. I feel that I would have grown into a very self-centered adult if it was. Nowadays, nothing annoys me more than people who constantly post about how good their lives are. Can’t everyone be miserable and cynical like me!?

  2. I didn’t need a movie made about these kids, but it’s quite obvious Sofia Coppola thinks differently, as she tries her damn near hardest to make these kids’ lives the smallest bit interesting. Doesn’t work, but I appreciated the effort. Good review.

  3. Abbi

    This post has made me feel ancient. Facebook became available when I was 26… lol! Your review had made me reconsider actually seeing this.

    • Please give it a go and let me know what you think. Once you’ve seen this movie you’ll be hella glad that Facebook wasn’t around when you were in your teens. It’s actually a huge parenting concern of mine: how can I teach my kids responsible internet usage without it affecting their lives too much?

  4. Mandy

    Thanks for the review. I actually have this in my Netflix queue, sort of as a “guilty pleasure” type movie. Now I’m actually looking forward to seeing it.

    • It is a bit of a guilty pleasure but I think it’s got a hidden depth to it. I think in a few years it will be seen as being ahead of its time. From an academic position, I think it would be quite an interesting film to study.

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