Susan Granger's review of 'The Bling Ring'
Published 9:37 am, Sunday, July 7, 2013
If ever a movie was designed to induce parental anxiety, this is it -- as Southern California teenagers go on an intoxicating, guilt-free burglary spree in the Hollywood Hills, excitedly chirping, "Let's go shopping!" Dazzled by the luxurious excess they see on television and in magazines, the group is headed by ringleader Rebecca (Katie Chang), who befriends shy, socially awkward Indian Hills High School newcomer Mark (Israel Broussard), along with nervy Chloe (Claire Julien) and Nicki (Emma Watson), her younger sister Emily (Georgia Rock) and their `adopted' sister Sam (Taissa Farmiga). The latter three are home-schooled by their ditsy mom (Leslie Mann), the curriculum from the self-help best-seller "The Secret."
After consulting stalker websites, they target the palatial and surprisingly unprotected homes of indulgent fashionistas Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge, Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom, among others. Apparently, none of these high-profile celebrities ever installed a burglar alarm, and Hilton conveniently left her house key under the front-door mat. The teen intruders' haute-couture haul in glittery designer loot was said to exceed $3 million.
Based on a real-life crime spree, which sparked the 2010 Vanity Fair article "The Suspects Wore Louboutins" by Nancy Jo Sales, the flimsy, atmospheric script by director Sofia Coppola should be a cautionary caper, a societal fable about materialism and amorality. Problem is: as evidenced by "Marie Antoinette," "Lost in Translation" and "Somewhere," Coppola seems not only blatantly besotted with the idle rich but also enticed and titillated by their vacuous extravagance. As a result, there's too little about the consequences of inept parenting and cocaine addiction.
Nevertheless, Coppola elicits clueless, yet convincing performances from her tweeting, texting cast, particularly Broussard, prancing in fuchsia stilettos, and Watson, shedding her "Harry Potter" Hermione persona. Not surprisingly, publicity-hungry hotel heiress Hilton allowed Coppola to film her lavishly decorated home and her chocked-full, candy-box closet.
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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Bling Ring" is a shallow yet scary 6, superficially documenting a banal youth culture of self-surveillance.