The Peeping Tom perspective makes it strangely addictive to watch. And the teens are entertaining, mercilessly critiquing the celebrities' tastes as they rummage through their designer labels, slip on the Louboutins, and rake through piles of gem-encrusted baubles. Only drugs and cash were snatched without question or comment.
Much of the loot was cellphone-snapped — for posterity, I guess — then posted on Facebook.
Like a meta moment, the movie captures the social networking in loving detail too. For the final time, the camera was in the good hands of frequent Coppola collaborator Harris Savides, who passed away not long after the film wrapped. (Christopher Blauvelt is the film's second cinematographer.)
For the incredible ensembles the actors — and closets — are dressed in, credit costume designer Stacey Battat.
Everything about "The Bling Ring" is beautifully rendered, with an attention to detail that has become a Coppola signature so lushly realized in the bouffants and bustles of 2006's "Marie Antoinette."
The filmmaker clearly has an ear for dialogue as well. She certainly nails the privileged Valley teen here.
Yet with the exception of 2003's "Lost in Translation," which remains a brilliant high for Coppola, there is much about the director's work that somehow does end up lost in translation. She stays ever at a distance, keenly observing but never taking a stand.
In "The Bling Ring," that leaves the characters with no discernible emotional arc. These teens flat-line from start to finish.
For a story to grab you, someone needs to live or die, fall in or out of love, or at least learn something about themselves. The periodic cuts to the interviews after the teenagers' arrests, the spots where you might expect some insight, offer little.
Make no mistake, it is lovely to look at this celebrity bedazzled bit of L.A. crime history for a while. But the movie ultimately leaves you feeling as empty as the lives it means to portray.
'The Bling Ring'
MPAA rating: R for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language including some brief sexual references
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: At ArcLight Hollywood; Landmark, West Los Angeles, AMC Century City