The Bling Ring

American Zoetrope

There's a lot more substance to The Bling Ring than surface.

At least, that's what most reviewers are saying about Sofia Coppola's new flick starring Harry Potter's Emma Watson as the wild and sexy leader of a group of teenage bandits with a penchant of breaking into the homes of Hollywood celebrities.

Here's a quick roundup on what the critics are saying about this burglar bunch:

• "The Bling Ring" occupies a vertiginous middle ground between banality and transcendence, and its refusal to commit to one or the other is both a mark of integrity and a source of frustration," writes A.O. Scott of The New York Times. "The audience is neither inside the experience of the characters nor at a safe distance from them. We don't know how (or if) they think, and we don't know quite what to think of them. Are they empty, depraved or opaque? Which would be worse?"

• "Though on the surface The Bling Ring is slight of aim and repetitive of structure, it is actually a slam-dunk conservative critique of American culture: As if with a checklist at hand, Coppola hits the collapse in Judeo-Christian teaching, decaying educational standards, loose ethics, broken families, drugs, Hollywood and a permissive criminal justice system," opines Kyle Smith of the New York Post, calling the ripped-from-the-headlines flick "magnetic."

• "The Bling Ring is often very funny, but never cruel…There's nothing new about people getting famous for being famous. What concerns Coppola is a generation wanting to be just like them…What she sees are amoral teens longing for some kind of intimacy," critiqued Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who called Watson's performance as an underage club kid and aspiring actress "sensational."

• "A lesser filmmaker would have turned them into warped rebels. What Coppola demonstrates is that they're not so much rebellious as scared," mused Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly. "In the end, of course, the members of the Bling Ring did get caught. Which finally made them, too, into 'celebrities.' The movie is a comic ode to how cheap our 15 minutes of fame has become."

• Not all critics were as enthusiastic, as USA Today's Claudia Puig was quick to counter: "The Bling Ring is the cinematic equivalent of the vapid, superficial kids it features—all visual panache and minimal substance."

• "[Coppola] seems far too at home in the world she depicts to offer a rewarding critique of it," wrote The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy.

The Bling Ring is now in theaters.

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