When Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring made its way into theaters in summer 2013, it had already been preceded by a Lifetime movie.
I went into this anniversary (six months late) not knowing how I would feel about it all these years later. On the one hand, Coppola is a brilliant filmmaker, having won an Oscar for Lost in Translation. And yet, watching years later, it doesn’t really work for me. While it premiered at Cannes, it just doesn’t feel like a film that should be playing at film festivals. I’m sorry but no matter how stylish it looks–and it is stylish–it falls short of the standards one expects from the Coppola family. For starters, the film does not do a good job at making audiences care about any of the Bling Ring members. Two, watching the film now makes me wonder if it would have been better off going straight to streaming. Three, there is already a 2011 Lifetime movie in existence.
The film retells the story of how a group of teenagers stole millions in items from celebrity homes. They would track their targets, learn if they were home or away, and then break in and steal items. It might appear to be fun at first but everything soon begins to spiral out of control. Celebrity after celebrity become victims, including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, etc. My big question is why would anyone not lock their door?!?
In casting the film, Coppola goes with a lot of mostly unknown actors at the time. Next to Emma Watson, the most notable names in the cast were Taissa Farmiga and Leslie Mann. But still, Watson alone isn’t enough to save the film. Her casting might have gotten fans to watch the film but her character wasn’t even the ringleader of the group. Meanwhile, Paris Hilton makes a cameo and lets the filmmakers recreate scenes in her home.
It’s not uncommon for multiple films to be made about the same subject. The Lifetime movie, which starred Austin Butler, came out in September 2011. While it may have beaten this one to the punch, this film benefits–for better or worse–from having more information being available. Even at that, Coppola uses the Vanity Fair article and research as a starting point. According to the film’s production notes, Coppola took things from her own experiences and combined the characters with people she knew in real life. While the gist of the film sticks to what happened, it does become exaggeration at some point or another. However, the existence of Lifetime movie reinforces my belief that the subject is better for a TV movie than theatrical.
While The Bling Ring might be attempting to say something about the culture in 2013, it’s the least impressive film in Sofia Coppola’s filmography.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sofia Coppola
CAST: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Georgia Rock, and Leslie Mann
A24 released The Bling Ring in theaters on June 14, 2013. Grade: 3/5
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