Film Review: The Bling Ring dir. Sofia Coppola

Hey Guys. I guess I'm doing film reviews now.

I just got back from Sofia Coppola's new movie, The Bling Ring*. If you don't know the plot, it is inspired by true events - a group of L.A. teens who rob famous celebrities' homes while they are away.  Mind you, this was in they heyday of reality shows like "The Hills", although I'm sure L.A. hasn't changed much since then. As you can see, this plot isn't like Coppola's previous films.

I sometimes think about that. Sofia always has these really great dainty yet powerful films, dealing with emotions and transitions of (typically) younger people. We've all seen it, her shots are beautifully soft and muted with feminine touches. Yet I wonder if she gets tired of doing that, because this film is completely different. Yes, her iconic perspective of suburbia still remains in many of her setting-the-scene shots and key color palettes.

But to be honest, I don't think I liked the film.

The Bad Stuff: 
I don't want to put Sofia's work down, at all. Mainly because I have a massive girl crush on her and I know she puts way more into her films than we can ever know, but the film seemed off. Number one, the actual fluidity of the cinematography seemed a bit amateurish in some shots (mainly the opening scene). You could see the camera shaking on the rig, which I know only a handful of people would actually notice but it just started the film off on the wrong tone.  Also, the film was shot in modern day, with pockets of TMZ style paparazzi footage, but for such a sleazy plot line, some of the shots looked too soft, too pretty, and too expensive (court scenes especially). Not even glamorous, like the film wants to be, just soft. It's probably something to do with the deep focus they used.

    The music placement was also a bit strange (although she did feature some Azealia Banks which I mentally jammed out to). Again, the opening scene used the same Sleigh Bells song as the trailer, which made it lose impact in my opinion. Some of the actors/extras were also pretty amateur, you could tell they didn't quite know how a party went down in this day an age (like watching someone taking a hit from a joint and acting like its a miraculous 3 foot bong). I suppose you could argue that that is how the "elite" party, like assholes, but hey - that's up for debate. This next bit isn't though. The "extras" who bully Broussard (male Bling Ring member) in the first few scenes are hilariously bad. I'm sorry, but that kid is so attractive! Why would anyone bully him? I don't care if he just transferred in! Nope. It's like that jean jacket girl in Perks of Being a Wallflower who calls Charlie a "faggot" every other scene. It's just so left field that it makes absolutely NO sense.

So now that I've ripped all of your hearts' out, lets go to the character breakdown.

Character Breakdown:
Emma Watson: Interesting character, you see only 1/5th of what you'd expect to see of her, funny one liners, her accent is a bit off but endearing, and her body language is really spot on for her character. 

Taissa Farmiga: I love this girl, but I think she was gravely miscasted. Her character is obsessed with zebra prints/cheetah spots and makes out with random dudes. Perhaps I'm just used to seeing her as Violet from American Horror Story, but really - I think she didn't fit the role. They needed someone who was more of a "Lisa" from Girl Interrupted.  But nonetheless, I can't wait to see Taissa in future roles to come. 

Israel Broussard: Maybe one of the best actors, plays the sympathetic character. Gay- but not overly "Hollywood Gay". You never really dislike his character, and if I could compare him to anyone - he's the Lux of the film.  I think he did a great job to be honest and I hope this kid goes far.

Katie Chang: Head of the Bling Ring, a few awkward lines, but she really pulls it together in the end. She embodies this cool and calm confidence, even when she is about to be prosecuted. I really dig her character.

Claire Julien: Almost a little too laid back for her counterparts (to the point where it was a bit embarrassing). I'd like to see her in more of a Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine) type of film. 

Leslie Mann: PERFECT Adderall giving mother. Her performance was probably the best out of everyone. 

The Good Stuff:
I think it's a really interesting commentary on "celeb" culture and social media. Yes, the amount of "selfies" taken in the film was a bit ridiculous - but the characters are ridiculous. I think this is the type of film that I'll appreciate when I'm older, looking back at the boom of the Internet and social media age and how it corrupted the youth. At least, I hope it won't be like this in the future.

I truly wonder if I didn't like the film because I couldn't relate to the teens, or perhaps it was because I didn't want to relate to them. Is this what the youth is like today? Do we have an identity anymore or are we all just trying to create our own image- like celebrities? It's unsettling. Even if you aren't as extreme as the characters, at some level you can relate to them. I hope people see this about the film. I hope they just don't walk away laughing at crazy materialistic teens - because we as a society allow those type of people to dominate our perceptions of pop culture in some way or another.

(edited photos from durre.tumblr.com )

Final Thoughts:
I personally think Sofia connects more with film critics when she creates films that deliberately make you feel a certain way (nostalgic mystery in The Virgin Suicides, sympathy in Marie Antoinette, etc). In this film, she tried to remain as non-biased as possible in an effort to make the audience reflect on their own morals. I mean, I dig it, but if she would have dug a bit further into the problematic lives of the Bling Ring members in a non humorous way, perhaps I would have gotten something more out if it. She gave us one sympathetic character (Broussard), who I really connected with, but left everyone else out of the picture. 

It's interesting. If you are a film lover, you will probably will be torn. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm going to predict that this film will get better over time, once we clearly see our old society through a new lens. Unfortunately, even the physical look, sound, and flow of the film didn't meet my expectations.  If you are a regular movie-goer, you will probably think it's either lack luster, or completely fun. I really do commend her directing though. It's a hard film to make, a film that is set in our present era of capitalism and narcissism. How are you supposed to make that feel good? 

I'd recommend shelling out $10 to see it, but go in with an open mind. Listen carefully and see what your response is. It can say a lot about you.

Anyways that's it. I'm not a film critic, but I hope you guys enjoyed this either way.

Keep it cool, 
*= This was written the night of the wide release premiere, Friday June 21st 2013.


  1. I live in San Diego so I remember hearing about the events on the news due to the proximity. I took my boyfriend to watch it with me. He's from L.A. so he was able to explain things to me and also give me insight about the partying scene there. Unfortunately he told me those types of teens are most certainly real and still out there. Kids that smoke from a joint and act crazy because they want to portray a crazier lifestyle than what they have. All their lives are basically an act.

    Sofia remained incredibly accurate when it came to the events. Almost everything she depicted in the movie happened in real life down to the one liners. She really did her research when it came to the characters and events. For those who watched the E! reality show Pretty Wild, Sofia even added some references from the show.

    I also thought Emma did a spot on job on the accent. It really sounded like Alexis Neiers in my opinion especially when she was being interviewed outside the court. I can't say for the other kids though since I wasn't too familiar with the people they were portraying.

    Overall I enjoyed the film a lot and even my boyfriend liked it too. I just find it crazy that nothing much has changed in the L.A. social scene since the events took place. I guess L.A. rich kids are going to continue to be obsessed with celebrity culture and seek for ways to become famous.


    1. Wow!!! That's really interesting. I suppose that knowledge is really what I needed if I wanted to like the film. I wish I knew your perspective better. And yes, I agree that the party scene could have gone that way. You have some really interesting points! Thanks for your comment!

      -Lauren Rose

  2. Shoot, I came late for the Almost Famous Film Muse post. I absolutely loved everything you said about that movie. I agree with you that "it has soul", couldn't have been put any better. That's what it is. I remember watching it when it came out, as a 17 year old girl who wanted to be a rock star (whoa, dream big!)and was crazy in love with the allure of life on the road. Plus, I've always, always had this dream to travel the USA with a bunch of die-hard mates. Just imagine the impact it had on me, specially moments like for example when they're all upset by the band feud over the t-shirts and Russell running away and they start singing Tiny Dancer together until you can almost smell the love, the unity among those big hairy guys despite the fights. Few movies have left me with both a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. This just sounded way better in my head, but oh well hahah. I love the movie, too.

    I don't feel particularly interested in this new Coppola's one, on the other hand. I'm so in love with her early stuff, I fear that if I watch this one the disappointment will break my heart and the magic. Don't know, we'll see.

    Big, big hugs!!


  3. The visuals in this film were too trendy...it felt like the whole movie was shot through an Instagram lens. And I felt like the funny parts weren't funny, and some scenes we're so pointless (like the webcam scene of Marc smoking and dancing). I feel like the whole "pretty princesses doing hoodrat shit" is so played out. If I wanted to see that, I would've rented Spring Breakers. I didn't like it, I felt like I wasted my money as the movie ended (mostly due to the weird, abrupt ending). Thought I did like the fact that Emma wasn't the lead. The lead had to be played by an unknown actor to really convince the audience that she's a pop culture worshiper. Emma already lives that life.