Sopia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" (2013) is true teen crime story based on 2010 Vanity Fair article "The Suspects Wore Louboutins." In US, the warped teens crime spree ruled the social networks and TV. The teens made a short but remunerative tours to the houses of celebrities, stealing an upwards of $3 million in cash, clothes and designer swag. It shines a light on the dark side of American consumer and celebrity culture and shows us disturbing attributes of greed, celebrity worship, desire and conspicuous consumption. However, the characters are mostly one-dimensional and the film mostly tries to find out, who's more stupid: the celebrity victims or the teen perpetrators.
Rebecca (Katie Chang) is a brand-obsessed girl and is the leader of "Bling Ring" gang. She quickly befriends Marc (Israel Broussard), a loner who is new to the high school. In one of the party, she asks Marc,“Wanna do some cars?” The walk through the silent nighttime streets and look out for unlocked cars to takes in cash and credit cards. Soon, they learn about celebrity schedules (which parties they are attending) through Facebook and search the internet for their addresses. The duo first hit Paris Hilton's house, adoring her choice of clothes, jewelry, and designer accessories. After stealing few goodies from the house, they recruit few of the friends.
Nicki (Emma Watson) and her adopted sister Sam (Taissa Farmiga) share Rebecca's celebrity worship and brand obsession. They become part of these escapades, even though their mother Laurie (Leslie Mann) tries to fill their heads with 'Law of Attraction' platitudes from a church that promises success and wealth to positive thinkers. With Chloe (Claire Julien) -- another narcissistic self-centered teenager -- the gang of five makes detours to the houses of Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, and the like. Most of these celebrity mansions lack proper security or alarm system. Except for Marc (who remains anxious), everyone enjoys this ordeal. When one of them gets caught in a security camera, it doesn't take long for the gang to crumble.
Director Sofia Coppola has an interest in lost girls ("Lost in Translation", "The Virgin Suicides") and in the stupidity of celebrity ("Somewhere"). So, it's easy to understand why she was attracted to these high schoolers. She sticks to the facts reported in the article (although the names and some of the specifics have been changed). The script takes a little strange and comic detour, where various characters narrate their version of events to a reporter. These poker-faced confessions bring out the director's satirical fervor. But, the robberies take on a monotonous dullness, where the characters don't have any depth. They always giggle after taking in the brands and remains devoid of self-awareness, throughout the capers.
The gorgeous cinematography from Harris Savides gives the movie an improbable transcendence. He documents a silent robbery in a nighttime shot from the hill. The camera looks into a glasshouse and the activities of two thieves inside the house looks like a beautiful mime show. Coppola doesn't serve us with any psychological, sociological, or moral portraits of the characters; instead, she decries the materialism and chronicles the heedlessness of the teens. From a sociological perspective, the film has a lot of values, depicting the craving for materials, but the movie would have been lot greater, if it just tried to make the characters more than a hastily sketched caricature. The five main actors, especially Emma Watson does an admiring job in portraying monumentally shallow humans.
"The Bling Ring" fails with its overstretched, detached observational approach, but perfectly lays bare the venality of celebrity culture.
The Bling Ring -- IMDb