Critic’s Pick: ‘The Bling Ring’

Must-See Movies Beyond the Blockbusters
Emma Watson in 'The Bling Ring'

Love her or hate her, Sofia Coppola has cornered the market on the world of privilege and its discontents. And so it goes with the writer-director’s latest movie, “The Bling Ring,” based on a Vanity Fair true-crime-in-the-Hollywood-Hills article. The film, in limited release this weekend focuses on a celebrity-obsessed Bonnie and Bonnie and Bonnie and Bonnie and Clyde gang that robs from the rich – Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom – and lines their own Prada pockets.

Led by relative newcomers Katie Chung and lush-lipped Israel Broussard, the high school heist comedy benefits from low expectations. Think a dark teen comedy in the tradition of “Mean Girls” and “Heathers.” Both Broussard and Chung are delightfully decent as ringleaders Marc and Rebecca, but the film’s focus frequently shifts to supporting player Emma Watson. In micro-minis, her head bobbling on her slender neck, Watson plays La-La lost girl Nicki, a child of divorce incompletely healed by the New Age platitudes of her mother (Leslie Mann).

[Related: Cannes: Kim Kardashian, Lauren Conrad were ‘Bling Ring’ Inspirations, Says Emma Watson]

Katie Chang and Israel Broussard in 'The Bling Ring' Watson follows up on her turn as a drug-popping, alcohol-fueled, abuse survivor in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” with another edgy role where once again she’s trying to distance herself from her good-girl Harry Potter sidekick Hermione. Still, Potterheads will rejoice that their lady has charisma to burn – even when dancing drugged at a disco reveals the layers of neediness that underlies the larceny of all involved. Life isn’t fair. Celebrity is fickle. No one loves us. We deserve all that stuff we can’t afford. Insert foot stamp here.

For Coppola fans this accessible movie lives between the pole-dancing pretentions of “Somewhere” and the high-glass losers’s love affair of “Lost in Translation.” Neither her worst, nor her best. And, yet, to its credit, this movie foregrounds the young women who read Us Weekly and the fashion glossies religiously. To criticize the fact that the script doesn’t go deep enough is to get the point: that with all that swag out there for repeat-offenders like Hilton or Lohan, why shouldn’t a girl with gumption simply walk right up to an empty house and liberate its contents for the sheer joy of material possession and to see her reflection in the mirror of a selfie on Facebook?

Bottom Line: Emma Watson has legs in a shiny bit of bling.

[Related: Emma Watson Embraces Her Acting Career with ‘The Curse of Being a Wallflower’]

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