THE BLING RING (Sofia Coppola). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (June 21). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring is the calmest crime story you'll see this year.
Based on the true story of some bored teenagers who broke into the Hollywood Hills homes of famous people, stealing clothes and jewellery and then posting images of themselves with their booty on Facebook, it's an observational study of the empty lives of people who seem to have everything.
Jumping back and forth between the crimes and their aftermath as several of the young felons (played by Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and an intentionally empty Emma Watson) prepare for their trial, Coppola shows how easily the gang targeted the likes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson and Megan Fox. (They used Google Maps to case their homes and TMZ to see when their owners would be out of town.)
Like Coppola's previous features The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, it's about privileged, isolated characters whose idealized lives are unsatisfying in ways that outsiders don't understand. Except those other films draw you closer to their characters through their empathetic tone and their attention to detail, and The Bling Ring never quite gets around to doing that. Aside from two compelling moments - a heist played out in one long, slow zoom and a bit of tension around a gun that may or may not be loaded - there's just nothing to it at all.