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:: The Bling Ring

Fans of Larry Clark milled into cinemas earlier this year to see “Spring Breakers,” hoping that some of his film making genius may have rubbed off onto Harmony Korine; instead, they were bitterly disappointed. But those looking for a film with that “Larry Clark feel” should be excited about “The Bling Ring,” a film that marries the crime genre with Gen Y’s fascination with celebrities.

Based on a true crime story, “The Bling Ring” sees Marc (Israel Broussard) arrive at a new school, unsure when or if he is going to be able make new friends. Along comes Rebecca (Katie Chang), a young girl with whom he quickly bonds over their shared obsession of dressing like stars and looking good. Soon, their friendship evolves into more than flipping through glossy magazines and wishing they could have the clothes they see. Rebecca decides that it’s okay to steal to get what she wants, and it’s only a small step when she decides that she and Marc should use the Internet to see when celebrities are away from their homes, then break into them to go on a ‘shopping’ spree.

After successful raids on the homes Paris Hilton and other celebs, the pair recruits other like-minded people to help with the raids, including Nicki (Emma Watson), a young girl who has been raised believing that ‘The Secret’ is a religion, and who will do anything to become a celebrity herself.

Director Sofia Coppola brings an easy-to-watch, natural feel to “The Bling Ring.” Yes, she has a couple of moments during which the film drifts into that ‘music video’ style that so many younger directors like to produce these days, but the strong characterization of the script certainly holds the audience’s interest and moves the story along.

Still the film does have some severe problems. Despite the fact that the film is really a crime genre film and that the characters are so well set up that the audience can’t help but feel close to them (regardless of the fact that they are committing crimes), when the cops start hunting them down, the film never seems to reach its full suspenseful potential. Even when the characters are facing their court hearings, it just isn’t drawn out enough for the audience to worry about them.

The screenplay doesn’t use the character Nicki — or Emma Watson's great acting skills — anywhere near enough. In real life, Nicki is the most famous of the group, yet here she is pretty much treated like a ‘bit part’ character. In turn, Emma Watson never really gets the screen time she deserves, although she is good at what she does do.

The big winners when it comes to the cast of “The Bling Ring” are Israel Broussard and Katie Chang who, despite having limited acting experience, both do sensational jobs and show that they have rosy careers ahead of them.

Despite its couple of flaws, “The Bling Ring” is a good crime genre film that once again reminds people what a great young director Sofia Coppola is.