Bling Ring, The (2013)
Release Date: June 14th, 2013 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Sofia Coppola Actors: Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda
blivious parent Laurie (Leslie Mann) prepares her three teenaged children for school – in their house, where lessons based on “The Secret” are taught, with religious and karmic implications abounding. This method of education also garners a great lack of accountability and supervision. As a result, girls Nicki (Emma Watson) and Sam (Taissa Farmiga) are contumacious youths, more interested in partying and imbibing than following hokey rules. They’re good friends with Los Angeles’ Indian Hills High School students Rebecca (Katie Chang) and Chloe (Claire Julien), who quickly befriend the new kid Marc (Israel Broussard) and drag him along to wild club nights. Their lifestyles and aspirations are heavily influenced by “The Hills,” Teen Vogue, substance abuse, the media, and rap music (stereotypically).
Marc is easily caught up in drug-filled celebrations with hip crowds and aims to please his friends; it’s not long before he’s using the internet and celebrity gossip websites to locate addresses and learn about residential absences for the rich and famous, allowing the group to sneak inside lavish homes and swipe a few luxury pieces. It starts small, with minor “shopping sprees” at the mansions of Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox, and the crown jewel, Lindsay Lohan’s abode, among others. Repeat visits and security camera footage eventually tip off law enforcement, drawing the crooked crew closer to prosecution.
It’s a bit peculiar that the film depicts not a single break-in thwarted by alarm systems, armed guards, or locked doors (screen doors and windows are the most common entries, along with keys under front doormats). But the areas are presumably nice enough that the thought of gangs of thieving teens never crossed the celebrities’ minds. Only Marc seems to realize the seriousness of their activities and inevitable consequences, while the girls view the plundering as another form of entertainment. A hyperactive, inescapable soundtrack and flashy editing are also in play, while a hallucinatory, slow-motion, dreamlike state of partying takes up the majority of screen time, revealing a deficiency in plot and action and even motivations of class resentment.
Based on a Vanity Fair article, more cleverly titled “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” “The Bling Ring” is a stylish, amusingly weird look at a real case that highlights America’s fascination with all things celebrity. In this instance, celebrities are the quarries, while popular, fashionable teens are the culprits, burglarizing properties of millions in jewelry, clothing, and cash. A hyperactive, inescapable soundtrack and flashy editing are also in play. Most of the roles fail to inspire sympathy (like this year’s “Pain & Gain,” though not nearly as extreme), especially when wealthy victims are shown to barely notice the loss of extravagant items (Paris Hilton is robbed numerous times), and the crimes are not nearly as glamorous, adventurous, or exciting as they could have been. A “Bonnie and Clyde” reference made by the lead character is largely unsuitable – artistic license isn’t utilized enough to exaggerate the actual events for the sake of thrills. The original article even includes an admission to the attempted ransacking of Ashley Tisdale’s home, where a houseguest frightened off the group. This potentially thematic episode was curiously absent from the adaptation. So too is an effective climax, relying instead on following the blander, realistic incidents of the documented conclusion to the infamous Hollywood Bling Ring.
– Mike Massie