THE BLING RING
(directed by Sofia Coppola, 2013)
*** (out of 5)
> Okay- so she will never be her celebrated dad, but Sofia Coppola is a very skilled director in her own right.
. Try to forget her abysmal performance in GODFATHER III. Sofia never wanted to be an actress. That casting debacle was Francis Ford’s. She was clearly uncomfortable every time the camera was trained on her. But she’s on the other side of the lens now, where she is justifiably self-assured. Her films are not consistent. (Witness the bland, useless SOMEWHERE, which was a real waste of film stock.) But remember- this is the talent that brought us films like THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and LOST IN TRANSLATION. This effort doesn’t rank with the best of her work or her worst. It’s middling Coppola, but it has an interesting premise and a serious point to make.
. Taken from a Vanity Faire article by Nancy Jo Sales, (who co-authored the script with Ms. Coppola), about a group of board, aimless youth who followed social networks to target the unoccupied homes of celebrities for burglary. It’s just a romp to them- a mischievous lark that blossomed into a criminal enterprise. THE BLING RING is a pointed, often funny, if painful look at the current crop of alienated youth- and it does not paint a pretty picture. It shows them as crass, cynical, pampered, undereducated, privileged narcissists, brought up believing that they shouldn’t really have to work for anything- the fruits of Life should be handed to them on silver platters with an after mint. To these adrift malcontents, money is the only value- and fame the preferred way to obtain it. But if they can’t be famous, they will settle for being infamous.
. THE BLING RING was stylish and fun, but I was left feeling a little disappointed that the script didn’t dig as deeply as the subject matter would suggest possible. Detached, vacuous youth drenched in the illusion of entitlement, their ethics morally fluid, completely incapable of serious self-reflection- a lot of juicy material there! But there just wasn’t really much to this film: Immature twentysomethings hit on the idea of robbing celebrities, do it for the thrill and develop a taste for it, selling Paris Hilton’s designer handbags at a flea market, and casually bragging about it at parties, until they are summarily busted. No big surprises there.
. But some priceless dialogue spoken by a deliciously unctuous Emma Watson, who is feigning contrition in the aftermath, sums it up perfectly. After blaming everyone but herself in a transparent Pollyanna ploy, she muses casually for the cameras: “I dunno. Maybe I’ll want to be president some day…” as though the decision was hers and hers alone to make.
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