The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgRebecca: Did you speak to any of the victims?
L.A. Detective: I’ve spoken to all of them.
Rebecca: Really?! What did Lindsay say?

A gang of 5 wealthy L.A. teenagers begin breaking into the homes of celebrities. They’re driven by a dual obsession with fame and desire for new clothes. The group of four girls and one boy targets celebutantes and starlets. The reason being they own clothes the girls want to wear. Sounds like a satire dreamed up by a Hollywood screenwriter, an indictment of entitled LA teens not satisfied with the level of their affluence. But truth is stranger than fiction. The reality is, it did happen during the latter half of 2008 and beginning of 2009 when Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge and the homes of various other personalities were burglarized in the Hollywood Hills.

As we watch the crimes committed, the details are a real eye-opener. We see how the band reads gossip magazines to determine when their victims would be out of town, then use the internet to discover their addresses. Once there, they climb over fences without effort and virtually walk in undeterred. At one point they access a house through a doggy door, at another they find the keys lying under the doormat. Director Sofia Coppola was intrigued after reading an article in the March 2010 Vanity Fair titled “The Suspects Wore Louboutins.” The movie features newcomers Katie Chang and Israel Broussard as the main duo and includes genuine stars Emma Watson as Nicki, one of the vapid teens, and Leslie Mann as her airhead mother, Laurie. The cast is uniformly excellent in conveying their shallow yet passionate rapacity for material possessions.

The action is filmed almost as if the audience is the 6th member of their little clique. There are some delicious quotes sprinkled throughout: “Girls, time for your Adderall!” mother Laurie shrieks to her daughters one morning; or the way lead burglar Rebecca chirps, “Let’s go shopping!” before she robs someone’s house. The tone of The Bling Ring is surprisingly egalitarian. It presents without moralizing. As such, the script isn’t particularly deep, but it‘s compelling viewing nevertheless. The superficial approach actually befits its subject. There is a noticeable unwillingness to delve into their celebrity based fame-whore mentality. That’s because there is no depth to the machinations of these youths. They’re an American tragedy. They believe in absolutely nothing but their own satisfaction. Therefore, the peripheral examination gently rebukes these kids by giving their lives a trivial treatment. Despite the heinousness of their crimes, I suspect they relish the fact that a film was made about their escapades. Perhaps that’s the saddest tragedy of all.

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16 Responses to “The Bling Ring”

  1. Well written review!

  2. This was OK, but I found it difficult to engage with the characters, since they were just as shallow and vapid as the people they were stealing from. The plot just shuffled along from one totally unguarded house to the next without actually pinning down a theme for us to really think about. I guess it is all about wanting to live the celebrity lifestyle, but if they had robbed some interesting people then it would have been much more enjoyable! I’ve almost forgotten about this already after 24 hours. Great review, as always.

    • I didn’t need to engage with the characters to enjoy the film. I saw it as a story about the banality of evil. These are the kinds of people that contribute to the downfall of society because nobody sees it happening. I’m still fascinated by the real life news story on which this was based.

  3. Bling Ring is still on my must-watch for this year. I’m fascinated by ridiculousness of this true life tale and interested to see it all play out under Coppolla’s direction. I’m glad to hear that despite its message, the film is even-handed with what it has to say, without going overboard. Great review Mark.

  4. This was pretty good. I remember seeing a documentary about the story a while back, so no surprises here. Actors did a good job. I was surprised how easy they got into to the celebs homes. 3 stars

    • I remember seeing a clip of this E! reality television series called Pretty Wild back in 2010. It chronicled the lives of these socialite girls. Their mother Andrea Arlington-Dunn was portrayed by Leslie Mann in the movie. Her home schooling lesson, complete with an Angelina Jolie vision board was so ridiculous I would’ve thought it was parody in the film if I hadn’t seen it exactly as it happened on the reality show.

  5. Another strong review. You like The Bling Ring a whole love more than I do – I thought it far too repetitive to be effective.

  6. I guess I wasn’t quite as critical of the story because it was based on a true story.

  7. Fantastic review Mark. If only I could have calmed down enough after seeing this to actually treat it with an unbiased review of my own! lol

    “The superficial approach actually befits its subject.” – I agree, and the superficiality is what really turned me off. Highly dislikable characters, a shallow script and the events themselves not being things I generally interest myself in, made The Bling Ring next to impossible for me to like. I think it would have behooved me to research this one a bit more before going.

    • I know what you mean. There is something so unpleasant about these kids that makes even watching a movie about them a bit of a chore. If you approach this as a fictional story, it’s easier to digest.

  8. GaryLee828 Says:

    I thought this was pretty decent, but what I felt it lacked was any build-up and suspense. One minute the group are robbing and stealing getting away scot-free while the authorities seemed to be fairly clueless; then the next minute they KNOW exactly who it is. I would have liked to see HOW the authorities learned the identities of the culprits. Sure, they saw some home footage, but the footage seemed too vague to identify just who the intruders were.

    But anyway, not a complaint, really. Just something I felt could have added to the movie. I liked it for the most part just b/c it does a good job of displaying the mentalities of these sociopaths.

  9. I found it to be an interesting film. Looked great and like you state did not really pick sides, just showed it as is and left it to the viewer to form his own opinion about it all.

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