Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Gavin Rossdale
Watch The Bling Ring online in the UK: MUBI UK / Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
The Bling Ring is based on the Vanity Fair article “The Suspect Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales. It follows a pack of celebrity wannabe teenagers, who break into their idols’ houses in order to take handbags, shoes and jewellery so they can live the lifestyle that is just out of grasp, despite living in the well-heeled suburb of Calabasas in Los Angeles.
In a period of 10 months, the group amassed goods to the value of $3 million by using celebrity websites and Google Street View to plan the burglaries and found most of the houses unlocked. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson; the names of the victims may give you some idea of who these teenagers aspired to be.
You might think Sofia Coppola would delve a little deeper into the characters who performed these acts (the article reads like a blueprint for the film) but perhaps deliberately, we find there is nothing much here apart from celebrity gossip, cocaine abuse, the latest fashions, and who wore what on the latest red carpet.
The ringleader, Rebecca Ahn (Chang), is a fame-obsessed student at Indian Hill High School, who befriends quiet and ordinary Marc Hall (Broussard), a newbie. Marc feels fortunate to be chosen by Rebecca who is popular and cool, unlike him. He tells Rebecca that a wealthy friend is out of town. She suggests visiting the house. They come away with a Birkin bag, cash and the keys to a Porsche. And so begins the crime spree.
The soundtrack keeps the tempo up as they go house to house, heading toward their inevitable downfall, but there’s very little exploration into any real emotion. Maybe that’s the point. Rebecca’s friend Nicki (Emma Watson) and foster sister Sam (Farmiga) are “home-schooled” by Nicki’s naive and vacuous mother (Mann), and even enlist their younger sister to fit through a dog-flap to gain access to one of the properties.
The choice the writer-director of Lost in Translation makes here is social commentary rather than a good drama. The result, like Paris Hilton’s handbag collection, is something flashy and fleeting, which will be out of favour before you can say: “Which way to Rodeo Drive?”
The Bling Ring is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. It is also available on MUBI UK, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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