MRR Review: "The Bling Ring"

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Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes.
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MRR Review: "The Bling Ring"

-- Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes
Release date: June 21, 2013
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Genre: Crime / Drama

Based on actual events, "The Bling Ring" follows the story of a group of teenagers who rob celebrities' houses after tracking where they are via the Internet. The film is directed by Sofia Coppola, and it features a screenplay by Coppola and Nancy Jo Sales. It is based on a Vanity Fair article titled "The Suspect Wore Louboutins," which was also written by Sales.

Coppola's fifth feature film, "The Bling Ring" closely follows a group of characters who are not even remotely sympathetic. The four girls and one boy who are at the center of the film's action are only interested in fame, celebrities, and fashion. These passions are merged as the teens spend countless hours online tracking their favorite celebrities.

When they are sure the celebrities are out of the house, these fashion-obsessed robbers steal into their homes and essentially go shopping in their closets. While they are exploring the homes of well-known celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, these teens seem like warped versions of real people. Because of this fact, it could have been tempting for Coppola to make a satirical film, but luckily for audiences, she resisted that temptation.

Rather than making the film into a sensationalized version of a story that really only impacted a few people, Coppola created a film that encourages all people to look more closely at themselves and their trivial obsessions. The film tells the story of a small group of LA teens, but it does so in a way that may make moviegoers want to investigate their own lives a little bit more closely.

In 2008, when this group of teens was actually running from house to house stealing designer clothes, shoes, and jewelry, they managed to steal more than $3 million worth of stuff. Coppola's film does not necessarily condemn these teens for their actions. Instead, it offers a clear, almost journalistic, look at their behavior, and this perspective allows viewers to create their own opinions of the matter.

The group's escapades are not about taking from the rich and giving to the poor. They are much more complicated than that. Once these teens have walked away with their loot, they take pictures of themselves, which they post online, and in some cases, they even make love to the bling which they have stolen. At worst, this behavior is psychopathic, and at best, it is a reflection of a society that may need to refocus.

Although Coppola's direction may be responsible for much of the film's success, its actors also turn in excellent performances. The group of teens is led by Rebecca, played by Katie Chang. The daughter of Korean immigrants, Rebecca wants nothing more than to kidnap Paris Hilton's dog, which she sees as the perfect fashion accessory. Her friend Mark, played by Israel Broussard, has the tech savvy she needs, and he helps her to track celebrities online so that the group knows where to strike.

The group's most famous actor is Emma Watson of "Harry Potter" fame. The scenes with Watson are delightful, and she adds dimension to the film, which is not surprising to anyone who loved her as Hermione Granger. Her valley-girl accent is both well done and totally hilarious.

Watson plays Nicki, a wannabe actress who is incredibly narcissistic but very articulate. When Nicki is eventually caught, she tells the authorities that she has learned from her experience. This attempt at sidestepping the issue is something that she has learned from her mother, played by Leslie Mann, a hippie homeschooling mom, and the result is a deliciously funny scene. The film even has a role for Paris Hilton, whose possessions were stolen in real life by this gang, and many of the scenes were shot in Hilton's actual house.

"The Bling Ring" is funny, but it is too insightful to just be considered a simple comedy. It explores the idea of stars like Hilton who are famous for no real reason, but more importantly, it explores the motivations of the many other people who want to also be famous for no reason. It asks whether fame seekers are really seeking fame or whether they just want affection. As audiences watch Chang, Watson, and the film's other stars robe themselves in Lohan's clothes and run through Hilton's closets, they may stumble on their own answers to these questions.

Rating: 3 out of 5