The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring

For a period of almost a year in 2008/2009, five LA County high school students broke in to the homes of several celebrities, netting almost $3 million dollars in ill-gotten gains. Oddly, however, the burglaries were not entirely financially motivated. Instead of targeting the most valuable items, the group focused on high fashion clothing and accessories in order to emulate the style of the celebrities they worshipped.

Sofia Coppola takes their story and turns it into a film that’s part heist movie, and part critique of today’s culture of celebrity worship, fame and materialism.

When Marc Hall (Israel Broussard) transfers to a new alternative high school, he falls in with Rebecca Ahn (Katie Chang). The two share a love of fashion and celebrity gossip. They both also love a touch of risky behavior. One night after a party, they check every car on the street to see if they’re unlocked, and steal cash and credit cards from the ones that aren’t. Soon after, on of Marc’s friend’s family goes away for a week, and Rebecca convinces him that they should break in to their house. They do, and rewarded with finding a large roll of cash. They even take the family’s sports car for a joyride.

Flush with success, the two wonder about robbing Paris Hilton when they see in the media that she’ll be out of town for the weekend. They pull up her address on the internet, view it on Google Earth and wonder to themselves, what are the chances she leaves a key under the mat?

She does.

Entering Hilton’s home, the two step into an entirely different world of wealth and possessions. Entire rooms are full of shoes and purses. Her wardrobe is the size of a department store clothing section. She even has her own nightclub in her house. The two take a number of items, but considering the sheer volume of Hilton’s possessions, it’s unlikely that they’ll be missed.

When they return with the story to their friends, everyone is amazed. They want to go themselves. Their circle expands to include Nicki Moore (Emma Watson), her adopted sister Sam Moore (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe Tayner (Claire Julien). Together, the five begin a string of robberies based on tracking celebrity trips away from home. Aside from the rush of the robberies themselves, they find themselves outfitted in the most trendy and expensive clothes, and funded with plenty of cash.

Will the authorities catch up with them? What will be the price they have to pay?

“The Bling Ring” was a fascinating film, for me. These are five kids who are into partying and drugs, and . The parents in the film are clueless, inattentive and occasionally outright absent. The celebrity victims leave their homes unguarded and unlocked… literally inviting intruders and thieves. The celeb infatuated thieves eventually find a measure of celebrity themselves (including, in real life, a short-lived reality tv show). Through it all there’s the tension of the break-ins and the mind-boggling naiveté of the thieves, who don’t exactly make secret of what they’ve been doing amongst their friends and schoolmates.

Coppola chooses a rather conventional directing style to tell the tale without adding on a layer of flash and effects. She’s not heavy-handed with any sort of message, either, she merely recreates the events and let the viewer bring their own interpretations. The kids are left to run wild for themselves in a world of glitz and glamour that celebrates “more”, while the victims have SO much wealth that at times they don’t even recognize they’ve been robbed.

I found it a compelling film.

A-

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54 thoughts on “The Bling Ring

  1. HUGE fan of Lost in Translation here. Haven’t seen any other Sofia Coppola films, but I hope this is just as good. The A-minus seems to say so, and I love Emma Watson, no matter what the movie is.

  2. I found it very repetitive at times. They go to Hilton’s house a half dozen times, they drink at bars and dance a half dozen times and the scenes are staged in very similar ways. Watching Watson dance in a sexy way was fun but it became tedious because it was all the same. The best scene was watching a burglary from outside the house in silence. Watching immaturity is not automatically fun. This was dull after the first couple of heists.

    • Sorry to hear that. Personally, it never bothered me… it’s based on a true story and from what I’ve read, Coppola stayed pretty true to what actually happened. It never ceased to amaze me that they were getting away with it for as long as they did, especially given how open they were with flaunting the stolen goods, etc 8O

  3. I was planning on seeing this, but after seeing the trailer a couple of times I reconsidered. I’m not sure I can handle watching those characters, they seemed like horrible people to me. Usually I don’t worry about that when I go to see a film, I usually can connect with even the most unlikable characters, but for some reason that trailers for this one really put me off. Your review seems more positive than most, so it’s got me rethinking my decision a bit (again, lol).
    I guess my question would just be are the characters as obnoxiously shallow as the trailer would suggest, with no normal people to balance them out? Because if so, probably not going to see this in theaters.

    • Yeah, I’d say they are. Personally, that doesn’t bother me, that’s part of the reality of it… so I have no issue watching it. I know some people do, but I don’t need to “latch on to” characters or root for them necessarily… the movie can work around unlikeability in other ways. Meanwhile, I found the shallowness humorous, to tell you the truth, Hunter ;)

  4. It was repetitive, but I’ve got to give credit for Coppola for taking captivating material and making it her own. Some great shots in this film…I always talk about the Audrina Patridge robbing shot, but even the opening sequence is so mesmerizing–that scene pulled me in immediately. Also, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for months…Coppola always knows how to put good music in her movies!

    • The repetition didn’t bother me, but I know exactly what you’re saying about the intriguing shots. That glass house burglary was DEINITELY one of the best ones, that was super cool. I also was pretty uncomfortable with some of the drugging and driving sequences, especially after she put one T-bone accident in already, LOL!

  5. I liked the fact that Coppola was pretty non-judgmental about these obnoxiously self-centered characters. It gets a little redundant after a while, but I enjoyed it. And if that really was Paris HIlton’s house where those scenes were shot… WOW. It’s truly more garish than I even imagined…. An excellent review!

    • Wow, everyone with the redundancy, huh?

      And yeah, Cam that WAS Paris Hilton’s house. I dont think I could have kept a straight face if I saw those pillows. LOL I think I’d have cracked up. That’s some ridiculous level vanity right there! LOL :roll:

  6. Compelling in the way it allows us to make our own conclusions on these characters, but it becomes a bit of a bore and dull experience after awhile. Still, I liked what Coppola brought to the table in terms of look and style. Good review man.

    • Wow, so many people calling it boring and repetitive so far. I don’t know, I was never bored watching them commit felony robbery, you know? That’s a serious situation, and the way that these characters were… ignoring it made it fascinating. :D

  7. I can’t wait to see it this weekend. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I watched Pretty Wild. There was a marathon of it on one day, and I had no clue who these girls were, so I watched and was kind of fascinated. I’m interested in seeing Sophia’s take on them.

    • Don’t be embarrassed Brittani, I caught a couple of episodes of that show myself off of Netflix. The backstory here was fascinating… and Emma Watson did a great job of conveying Alexis’ cluelessness. Come to think of it, Leslie Mann did a great job as their whack-a-doo Mom, too. LOL :D

  8. Wow that is a much higher grade than I would’ve guessed it at. Sounds like Cappola delivered on this one. Good review Fogs.

  9. Great review, I’m glad you liked this one, Fogs! After reading some comments, it seems a lot of people have a problem with the “redundancy” of the film. Ha. Personally, I think that aspect of the film was on purpose, in order to get across how artificial these kids were and that the lifestyle they desired so much was nothing special at all. Awesome, film though, I really enjoyed it.

    • Thanks Minako… that’s a good point about the superficiality. I also just think she was trying to be representative. They broke into several stars homes. You can’t get that across just by showing one robbery, you know?

      Anyways, glad to get the support on this one! :D

  10. In defense of this, not having seen it yet, Sofia C.’s all about the “mise en scene”, capturing the look and feel of the time and place. Whether it’s Toyko, Versailles, or an ODed LA. she takes you there. Your review makes me think she succeeded! Will swing back after I’ve seen it.

    • She absolutely did, no doubt about it. You’ll be put right there with these kids. And personally, I found it really interesting and entertaining. Hope you like it when you do get around to it!

  11. You love it!!!!! YAY!!!! I’m just so glad that I’m among those who enjoyed this film. I think it’s Sofia Coppola’s most accessible work since “The Virgin Suicides” as I had a hell of a time watching this film. It’s just so fun. Then again, I’m kinda biased since she is my favorite filmmaker. I can’t wait for what she does next.

    • That’s probably a good point that it’s her most accessible work in awhile. I agree. Fairly conventional, I think. Not to say that like it’s bad…

      But I had fun with it too. Glad I’m not the only one! :D

  12. Hi, Fogs:

    When I saw the first trailers for this months ago, I didn’t have much interest. But taking in different perspectives as the film makes the circuit of film sites, I’m more intrigued.

    The film has a social satire vibe, in an overblown Imelda Marcos “muchness” kind of way. As to who is the fool. Those who have millions of dollars of valuables posted on Facebook and no security system. Or those who decide “to go shopping” and expect not to eventually be caught.

    Having Emma Watson on board doesn’t hurt, either.

    • Imelda Marcos is right. LOL And you’re right about the fact that both the thieves AND the victims come off as foolish. You just get the feeling that the wealthy targets here never even had that type of thought cross their minds… 8O

      Emma was fine here as a ditzy participant. LOL

  13. I saw an interview recently where the cast discussed their reaction to filming in Paris Hilton’s actual home – and discovering that the production team did almost no set decoration whatsoever (i think they moved one picture on the wall, that’s it). Apparently all the team did was set up the camera and some lighting and it was a go.

    I’m dead keen to see this so i can laugh at Paris Hilton once again.

    • Literally, it’s mind boggling. First of all, it’s like a shrine to herself. As if it were a Paris Hilton themed museum… Secondly, she has SO much shit! I guess being an heiress will do that for you, but jesus… there’s just tons of stuff…

    • Trust yourself… the trailers give a pretty good indication of what it is. If it interests you, check it out! Its definitely nothing that requires the “oomph” of the big screen, so if its a questionable call, check it out in a couple of months at home! ;)

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