HT Schuyler: The Bling Ring Review

Posted: June 20, 2013 by htschuyler in HT Schuyler's Movie Reviews

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Rated 14A for language, sexuality and teen drug use.

Directed by: Sofia Coppola.

Starring: Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga and Leslie Mann.

The Bling Ring tells a story so absurd and bizarre it almost comes off as science fiction. A bunch of spoiled, intoxicated teenagers rob some rich people by simply walking in the house and taking what they wanted. What is even more baffling is how they got away with it for so long, without people even noticing their missing things or friends of the teenagers reporting them initially, but what is even MORE baffling is the fact that this is based on a true story.

Marc (Israel Broussard) is the new kid at his local high school in LA, a school which mainly consists of thieves, drop outs, troubled kids and overall just douche bags. There he meets Rebecca (Katie Chang), who takes a liking to him and the two or them start hanging out. But before long he notices her dark side, as she convinces him to rob houses with her, starting with friends then moving on to celebrities. Joining them is Nicki (Emma Watson), Chloe (Claire Julien) and Sam (Taissa Farmiga). What starts as a small activity soon becomes an addiction as they rob house after house, each one from a different celebrity. As their addiction grows soon the authorities get involved, and the movie depicts their rise and fall, with all the comes with it.

The film is displayed in a very gritty, realistic tone, and the acting compliments this greatly. Every actor portrays their character very realistically, seeming like real teenagers. This film seemed like a documentary at times because the acting is so realistic. Each character was selfish, absorbed, unredeeming and just overall a terrible person, and each actor plays it flawlessly. The most sympathetic character is the protagonist, Marc, and as you watch his journey from rise to fall you feel conflicted on his character, not sure whether to pity him or hate him for the situations he’s put himself in. Actor Israel Broussard does an excellent job with this character, and ultimately becomes the one person you feel for. Katie Chang’s character Rebecca is so crazy and driven in her motivations that she comes off as psychopathic and scary. Her characters goes through no transformation and very little development, but this just makes her that much more menacing and frightening, and becomes the one you hate and fear the most. Chang does a good job at portraying all of this, coming off as sweet yet sour, making her character really stand out. Emma Watson is the one in here that everyone is talking about, whether it be cause they’re a big Harry Potter fan, or because the trailers reveal Emma Watson’s character to be somewhat of a slut, which she is. Her character has a lot of comic relief, not that she’s particularly funny, but becomes her character is just so damn pathetic that you can’t help but laugh at her. She plays, for lack of better words, a spoilt bitch who is obsessed with style and her image. She really is the most unredeeming character out of all of them, and Watson does an excellent job. Breaking out from her typical “nice girl” label, she plays the character so well, really making a lasting impression and making you very excited for her character’s fall. Leslie Mann, an actress who is very hit and miss with me, actually does a very good job as Nicki’s mom, playing the sort of hippie, new age woman who is obsessed with The Secret and finding your inner self. Overall everyone does a good job, creating despicable characters you can’t really root for, but still enjoy watching.

The Good:

Before seeing this I had not seen any of Sofia Coppola previous films, a mistake I will soon correct, because the strongest thing this movie has going for it is the direction, shot very close, very realistically, and very unconventional. The film utilizes real news footage as well as other stock footage to give the film the more realistic feel, and it fits into the film seamlessly. Coppola took something that could easily have fallen into teen drama or raunchy comedy, but instead uses both those elements to make it into a crime film for the modern age, but instead of smart criminals or gangsters, the characters are shithead teenagers who get by merely on dumb luck. Marc plays the character who is introduced into the crime world, and then the story follows his rise and how that plays out, showing the characters living the life, enjoying their riches and non-stop partying, and then the inevitable fall. All these factors work perfectly, creating an interesting, entertaining and at some points even thrilling crime drama. The films premise, and especially the fact that it is based on a true story is just so mind blowing in how these teenagers were able to get away with all this for as long as they did, is just so engaging that it keeps you invested until the end makes you want to find out more about the true story once it’s done. Another thing I loved about the film is its message, the idea that all these celebrities are so absorbed in their life and own so many things that they don’t even notice they’re being robbed, and how these characters are constantly craving more and more things, wishing they could be these celebrities and live their lives, it almost becomes disturbing over how people crave these inanimate objects that ultimately mean nothing. I found that message to be very interesting and important, or at least that’s what I got from it.

The Bad:

Despite the story being very interesting and engaging, the movie itself does not necessarily have enough substance to fill the movie’s run-time. The movie is only an hour and a half but it feels shorter, due to the fact that the actual scenes with plot and story development are only about forty-five minutes. In the meantime, the run time is filled with scenes of the kids partying, doing drugs, smoking, and just looking at/trying on clothes. There are quite a few throw-away scenes that really serve no purpose but to fill the run time, which is unfortunate as it screws up the pacing and the film can become dull at moments as you’re waiting for something to happen. Also as I previously mentioned the character’s are very annoying and selfish on purpose, but their are moments where it just becomes too much and really takes you out of the film. While most of my flaws with the film are simply nitpicks, my overall complaint is just the lack of substance. The story is very interesting, directing excellent and morals that the film is trying to get across are great, but all of that combined does not really equal enough to justify a feature film, it would probably have worked better as a documentary or TV special. The added scenes to make this feature length seem very forced and ultimately add nothing to the overall film. The substance that is there is excellent, but the added scenes to drag out the film’s run-time are pointless are dull.

In Conclusion:

If you’re going in to this film expecting a fun, crazy teen comedy then you’ll be disappointed, as the film is actually very smart, artistically made and even deep at some moments. It is a very good film, but certain elements stop it from being great. I give the film an immense amount of credit for displaying teenagers in a realistic light, and the story that it tells is so crazy it becomes fascinating, but there is a lot of pointless filler in the film that really takes away from it, and stops it from becoming one of this years best. Ultimately, I still highly recommend this film, it’s worth seeing just for the story alone, and for Coppola’s great direction. Check it out.

7.5/10

Comments
  1. moviebuff801 says:

    Good review. The more I read about this movie, the more I want to see it. One thing that can be said, though, is that the trailers are very interesting.

  2. htschuyler says:

    Thanks! And yeah it certainly is. It’s worth checking out for sure.

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