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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, September 18, 2014 - Edition No 915 
Reckoning

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BLING RING, THE

SYNOPSIS:
A group of teenagers obsessed with fashion and celebrity burglarise celebrities' homes in Los Angeles. Checking online to see when their targetsare out of town, they steal their designer clothes, shoes, drugs and jewellery. (Based on a true story)

Review by Louise Keller:
The beauty of Sofia Coppola's intoxicating film that dabbles with celebrity obsession is that it entwines us so completely it its fake culture, that it makes us believe we are part of it. The fact that the audacious notion of bling-blinkered Hollywood teen misfits who create their own lifestyle surreptitiously peeking into the private homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and helping themselves to the spoils is based on real events, adds its own grit. Coppola knows the culture intimately and nothing is lost in translation (pun intended) as we take our pick of glitzy designer shoes, handbags, jewellery and spangled dresses, snort lines of coke and stuff our wallets as we tag along this blueprint for an illicit celebrity life.

Inspired by a Vanity Fair article, Coppola quickly and authentically paints the world into which Marc (Israel Broussard, superb), an ordinary teenager gets swept with a group of principle-lacking sassy girls who live through Facebook and follow their favourite celebrities with breathless abandon, knowing their every move. Who could imagine that an Eiffel Tower adorned front door key would be under the welcome mat in the luxury mansion where Paris Hilton photos are framed wall to wall and a dancing pole features in the dedicated nightclub room?

The fly on the wall aspect is certainly part of the film's appeal but it is the entitled behaviour of its protagonists that offers the greatest insight. All the cast is excellent with Emma Watson a standout as Nicki; Watson has a 'must-watch' screen quality, emphasised recently in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and repeated here. The interaction between the characters as they ooh and aah, preen and try on clothes and bling in the celebrities' homes is quite telling as it highlights a certain mindset and lifestyle created and delivered by internet celebrity culture. Leslie Mann's overbearingly righteous mum is another well described signpost of the characters' reality being totally fake.

Coppola's film sparkles at every turn and there's plenty of bite when truth spits out its inevitable consequences. The world portrayed is as breathy and shallow as you would imagine - and that is the whole point.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The choice of this as a 2013 Cannes Certain Regard entry baffled a few critics, not least our own Man in Cannes, Nick Roddick, who said "There's a story here but Coppola doesn't want or can't be bothered to tell it, lavishing better lighting and more time on the walk-in closets full of shoes and handbags than in the almost interchangeable characters." I would suggest that Nick was being kind and gentle, in deference perhaps to his enthusiasm for Coppola's Lost in Translation and Somewhere.

This 90 minute film is in fact something like a 20 minute short that has been padded out with lingering but meaningless shots, with a number of collages and with repeated scenes of these brats robbing wealthy Hollywood mansions. They are fascinated by the items belonging to the celebrities, not just by the value or beauty of the items. Some audiences might get a thrill invading the (replica? fake? make believe?) Hollywood homes of the rich and famous; at least they'll get their money's worth.

There are about 500 lines of dialogue made up of either "Oh my god!" or "wow!", as they go through racks of expensive clothes, shoes, jewels, grabbing anything and everything, taking wads of cash so they can top up their stolen wardrobe with items actually paid for.

But top marks to the cast who deliver these characters exactly as intended: shallow, stupid, reckless, irresponsible, self centred and extremely irritating. I wanted to smack them all as they snorted the stolen cocaine. Even Leslie Mann - as the cloying mum who home schools her daughters covered in syrupy pop spiritualism - is irritating. I was hoping the cops would take her into custody for being annoying.

There is one scene in which the boy of the pack, the talented Israel Broussard, makes the remark that he would feel better had his sudden fame - as proven by the acquisition of 600 new fans on facebook - been generated by something more worthy than burglaries. That's all we get by way of comment or insight. For me it's not so much Bling Ring as Bo Ring.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

BLING RING, THE (MA15+)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann, Gavin Rossdale, Paris Hilton

PRODUCER: Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola, Youree Henley

DIRECTOR: Sofia Coppola

SCRIPT: Sofia Coppola (Vanity Fair article The Suspects Wore Louboutins, by Nancy Jo Sales)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christopher Blauvett, Harris Savides

EDITOR: Sarah Flack

MUSIC: Daniel Lopatin, Brian Reitzell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anne Ross

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 8, 2013 (Melbourne: Nova, Sydney: Palace Verona)







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