June 20--Shame on Sofia Coppola.
Her father, Francis Ford Coppola, has done so much to associate the family name with fine filmmaking, and she nearly wiped it out with one movie, "The Bling Ring."
It's almost impossible to believe the director who gave us the masterful "Lost in Translation" is responsible for what only laughingly passes as a feature film. "The Bling Ring" is as shallow and pretentious as the victims of the crimes depicted.
This is the 2008 story of how teens living in and around Calabasas broke into the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox to go "shopping." Their targets were high-end fashion, jewelry, money and any other bling they could find. The teens spent nearly a year on their crime spree before their bragging resulted in arrests and convictions.
Everything about this movie rings fake and false.
Coppola builds the movie backward, showing us the work of these criminals before giving us a glimpse into the psychology of what would make them act this way. The interesting part is not how they committed the crimes, but why. Instead of spending more than a few seconds showing how bad these teens had it (probably because it wasn't that bad), Coppola wastes time with long passages where we watch them sing, try on clothes and shout out the names of designers.
"The Bling Ring" shows how the robbers merely walked up to the front of a celebrity home -- whose address was found on the Internet -- and went in through an unlocked door. In this age of stalkers, it seems like a fairytale world, where every house and car is left unlocked and loaded with riches.
Even Coppola seems to nod off during the film. In one scene, the focus fades out before gradually returning. Sadly, it's the most memorable moment in the movie.
It doesn't help that this is the weakest group of actors you'll find outside an elementary school auditorium. Newcomer Katie Chang's work as the mastermind has all the energy of a dead rat. That means Israel Broussard, the dude in the group, gets little help trying to make his lifeless character work.
The biggest disappointment is Emma Watson, whose Valley Girl accent is as transient as the wind. The work is so bad it almost nullifies her standout performance in the dark comedy "This Is The End."
The problems keep circling back to Coppola, who co-wrote the script with Nancy Jo Sales (author of the Vanity Fair article "The Suspect Wore Louboutins," on which the script is based). Along with a story structure that doesn't work, the movie's pacing makes snails look like they are on speed. "The Bling Ring" story is interesting enough for an eight-minute segment on E!, but it's so stretched for this feature film that the 90-minute length feels 10 times longer.
"The Bling Ring" sets a new standard for film failure. It's such a mess, the teens should get back together and steal all of the copies of the movie. No court in the land would find them guilty.
"The Bling Ring," rated R for drug use, language, sexual content. Stars Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann. Directed by Sofia Coppola. Running time: 90 minutes. Grade: F
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.
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