The Bling Ring Movie Review
Once again, Sofia Coppola confounds expectations with an astutely relevant approach to a true story. These events may be torn from the headlines, but they also echo the world around us. And Coppola is giving us a telling insight into youth culture and its obsession with the high life existence of vacuous stars like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. It's also a very funny film, and deeply chilling too.
Set in suburban Los Angeles, the story centres on Marc (Broussard), a new kid at high school who befriends the Rebecca (Chang), an opportunistic thief who raids unlocked cars then gets an idea when she reads that Paris Hilton will be out of town. They look up Hilton's address online, find the key under her doormat and have an evening of riotous partying in her house, stealing a few souvenirs to prove it. But when they brag about it, their friends (Watson, Julien and Farmiga) want in on the action, so they start raiding homes of a variety of their favourite stars, always finding an unlocked door or window.
Before they were caught, these teens stole more than $3 million worth of cash, jewellery and designer-label clothes. And arrest only made them more excited, because now they were household names themselves. Unsurprisingly, Coppola's approach to these characters is never judgmental, which sometimes makes the film difficult to watch. These teens are unconcerned about the morality of stealing from someone who won't even notice that anything is missing from their obscene stockpile. And their desire for instant fame and fortune is understandable because the entire culture glorifies just that through reality TV and tabloid news.
The cast is terrific at layering all of these moralities. Broussard is the sympathetic hero, quietly voicing his concerns while enjoying the stilettos and the drugs. Chang's Rebecca is the more aggressive instigator, while Watson shines in the trickiest role as a teen driven to succeed by her faux spiritual guru mum (the superb Mann). So her character has no personality of her own, playing the stuck-up snob or tortured teen on cue. But what makes the film unmissable is the way Coppola so astutely nails today's youth zeitgeist. We may not like it, but we'd better get used to it.