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May 20, 2013

Cannes Film Festival Review: The Bling Ring

by Stephanie Dawson

This year, Oscar-winning filmmaker Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2003) returns to Cannes with her out-of-competition entry The Bling Ring. In the fame-obsessed world of Los Angeles, a group of teenagers goes on a crime spree in the Hollywood Hills. The teens track their celebrity targets online and steal more than $3 million in cash and luxury items from their homes. The film is based on actual events, and real-life victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Rachel Bilson.

The film stars newcomer Katie Chan as Rebecca, the ringleader of the group who ropes in the new boy in school Marc (Israel Broussard, Flipped, 2010) and rich wild child Chloe (Taissa Farmiga, TV’s American Horror Story). The cast is rounded out by Emma Watson, who plays Nicki, a girl who seeks “status by association” in her tailor-made spirituality taught by her mother, played by Leslie Mann (This Is 40, 2012). The cast members were in Cannes for the red carpet opening, turning heads with their very own (or borrowed) bling.

The subject of the privileged and their ennui is a staple for Coppola, but this film’s shooting style and pacing is more traditional than Coppola’s minimalist oeuvre. The film is framed by the teens’ arrest and subsequent interviews, but unfolds through an alternating series of heists and party scenes. At times, post-arrest interviews are woven in to provide narration or insight, though never judging the characters or story. The triumph of the picture is that it creates fully fleshed-out characters from the teens’ one-dimensional personalities. Their senses of right and wrong are based on whether they can get away with something, and they unabashedly post photos of their exploits on social media sites.

The film would be quite tedious were it not for the pseudo coming-of-age story of Marc, whose friendship with Rebecca is a blessing and a curse. Chan is perfect as Rebecca, and Broussard’s portrayal of Marc really makes it the heart of the film. There is also an unspoken (and perhaps unintended) commentary on the excesses in the lives of celebrities. In the film, the celebs’ houses have unlocked doors and no alarms. In some cases, the celebs don’t even realize any items are missing. The teens repeatedly burglarize Hilton’s house (the only victim whose real house appears in the film) and later wear the items they stole at clubs where Hilton is present, and she never notices. Overall, the film will appeal to the teen to 20-something audience and perhaps parents. Its message is not terribly compelling—or juicy—enough to gain wide appeal.

Limité Rating: 3/5


Director: Sofia Coppola

Screenwriter: Sofia Coppola

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

Distributor: A24

TRT: 90 min.


Release: June 14, 2013

The 2013 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 15 – 26 in Cannes, France.

Follow Limité Senior Film Contributor Stephanie Dawson and her personal exploits in Cannes on her blog,

posted by: Stephanie Dawson
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