The Bling Ring
Directed by Sofia Coppola
You’d think Sofia Coppola is beyond needing defensive preambles in reviews, but her latest film is, after all, about spoiled kids stealing stuff from celebrities. (At least Pain & Gain lets us laugh at the tank tops.) Typically chill, Coppola’s The Bling Ring wears its true tabloid-story as lightly as these bright young thieves step into the unattended houses of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and some reality-show starlet. Anyone expecting an indictment might overlook the casually perfect portrayals of carefree friendship, hanging out, and teenaged Los Angeles blahs.
The exploits of blandly smiling ringleader Rebecca (Katie Chang) and new, preppy-puffy friend Marc (Israel Broussard) aren’t played up with snappy editing or musical tracks meant to cue nodding along. All the raiding of cavernous fashion-plate closets is in fact a little repetitive, the rise-and-fall story secondary to, say, the jump-cut feel of a coke-jazzed joyride to Kanye West, or the exact nonsense declaimed by additional burglar Nicki (Emma Watson) in the run-up to the trial. (Some of the most self-delusional dialogue is plucked from the 2010 Vanity Fair article about the crimes, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins”: “I’m a firm believer in karma... I want to lead a country, for all I know.”)
Selfies, full-screen photo shuffling, Marc reading aloud from gossip sites like it’s the weather—Coppola generally doesn’t seem like she’s trying too hard. And she doesn’t need to press the point that the thieves’ escapism (the world as Web, each dream-house scoped through Google) has a plebeian analogue in the saturating obsessions of social media. But there’s a dramatic limitation to the characters’ free-floating impulsiveness, and some slight oversell by Watson and Leslie Mann (as Nicki’s mom); these youngsters are far less captivating than the father-daughter relationship of Coppola’s last film, Somewhere. It’s not that we shouldn’t care, but that it’s hard to care very much.
Opens June 14