The Bling Ring

Superficially this is a simple show with a simple, straightforward plot, and cookie-cutter like characters. However, on deeper inspection, Sofia Coppola has actually created a rather piercing and satirical black comedic commentary on American Youth and the American (Modern) obsession with celebrity, fame and decadent hedonism. Unfortunately, she had to hit us with a sledgehammer at the final 10 minutes to drive this point into the audience! Such audacity to insult the people (unless, you see it as a further layer of social commentary on its audience...then, that might just be slightly brilliant). That being said, sadly in the end, this was a 90 minutes movie that is essentially 2/3 fillers. Sure, we had some interesting shots from Coppola here and there as she tried to capture the decadent lifestyle of the characters, but where she really excelled in were the quieter moments, the wide angled shots, and the framing of the characters, but she should really lay off the handheld cameras in her future work (Kathryn Bigelow she ain't). Kudos to cinematographers Christopher Biauvelt and Harris Savides for some really good shots. The cast were overall quite good and played their parts as they should, however, Coppola did not instill in them any character and they were all broadly painted, and thus presented. The three keys leads had some sort of vague complexity written into them, but it was not enough. This is not a character study as to why they committed the crimes that they did, and if that layer could have been added into the satirical commentary, this movie may have been a lot better. But then of course, the cast will also need to be much better. Israel Broussard is the main figure here and it is through his point of view that we enter into and emerge out of the story, but he is like a poor man's Jesse Eisenberg, and although we are meant to sympathise with him, it is difficult as he has been presented as nothing more than a willing pawn. A willing pawn to Katie Chang's ringleader. Chang is a fresh face and I think she is a competent actress but her character's duplicitous nature was not brought out as well as it could have. She seemed to have gotten specific instructions to perform each scene (like Claire Julien) and it did not feel organic. Emma Watson, arguably the most famous name of the bunch, followed up "Perks of Being a Wallflower" with another role that screams "I AM NOT HERMIONE!". This is not saying that she is bad, for she did give a commendably black performance as the epitome of Coppola's American Troubled Youth which Coppola has obviously written for her, but rather, she had her moments of overacting when trying to portray the very unlike her character. Surprisingly, I think Taissa Farmiga might actually be quite suited to that role. Lastly, Leslie Mann was a delight whenever she came on, Gavin Rossdale aka Mr Gwen Stefani had an annoyingly roving accent, and the music throughout was a rather, what I thought, racist stereotypical selection.

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