Movies: "The Bling Ring" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "The Bling Ring"
Movies: "The Bling Ring"

 

“Let’s go to Paris.  I want to rob.”

 

When misfit high schooler Marc (Israel Broussard) gets this text on his phone, he knows just where he and his new best friend Rebecca (Katie Chang) are headed.  Not to gay Paree, but to the home of Paris Hilton, who conveniently leaves the front door key under the mat.  There, surrounded by adulatory photos of Ms. Hilton herself, they will help themselves to her high-fashion clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry, and maybe twirl around the stripper pole in the model’s “nightclub room.”

 

Based on the true story of the teenagers who broke into a half-dozen celebrity homes with seeming impunity, Sofia Coppola’s latest movie is just like some of the stars themselves: gorgeous to look at with not much else to offer.

 

Rebecca’s gang (the others are played by Emma Watson, Claire Julien and Taissa Farmiga) seem to live entirely without parental supervision, except for two of the girls who are home-schooled according to some bubblegum philosophy by a ditzy mother (Leslie Mann, who has appeared in several of hubby Judd Apatow’s comedies).  As for the rest, we only catch glimpses of mothers and fathers, too preoccupied to notice that their winsome children are wearing stolen Prada and snorting coke.

 

The victims of the break-ins appear to be just as oblivious, leaving their homes ridiculously vulnerable to the thieves, with never a servant or staffer around the place. (I understand that both Hilton and Lindsay Lohan allowed their actual homes to be used in the movie.)

 

For the kids, the rewards of their nocturnal forays are played out in nightclubs, where it seems high school students can drink all they want as long as they look good doing it.  Coppola and her music mavens, Daniel Lopatin and Brian Reitzell, drop in a lot of hip-hop cuts by such luminaries as Kanye West and M.I.A., including a terrific closing credits number by Frank Ocean.

 

The cinematography is by Christopher Blauvelt, whose work has appeared in such diverse movies as “Speed,” “Cool World” and “Zodiac.”  It is gorgeous.  Among my favorite scenes was a nighttime cruise under the towering palms of L.A. in a stolen Porsche, and a long, steady shot of a jewel-box house with all of the city lit up behind it, as two figures scurry around inside, helping themselves to the loot.

 

But ultimately, the movie sags under the repetitive nature of its plot.  The kids steal stuff, then party, then steal some more stuff.  Rinse and repeat.  The screenplay is by Coppola and Nancy Jo Sales, based on Sales’ Vanity Fair article, “The Suspect Wore Louboutins,” a far better title for the movie, in my opinion.  The real trouble here is that these burglars are basically vapid.

 

Everyone was wondering how Emma Watson would fare without Harry Potter to protect her.  She does a good enough job here, but is really only a second banana to Katie Chang as the blingleader.  Broussard is sympathetic as the boy swept up by the attention of the larcenous lasses (and by his love of Paris Hilton’s red shoes), and for what it’s worth, Hilton herself makes a brief appearance, along with news vids of Lohan and Kirsten Dunst.

 

“The Bling Ring” is rated R for drug use and language (there is no sex to speak of, unless you count selfies of young women fanning themselves with twenty dollar bills).

 

I give it a B-Minus.

 

 

 

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