The Bling Ring
Starring Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Leslie Mann and Gavin Rossdale.
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Some people like reality television, some people hate it and some become obsessed by it. Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring was inspired by the true story of a group of young fame junkies who weren’t satisfied with just watching their favorite celebrities on the boob tube, no, they needed to enter their idols’ world as well. This real life “E! True Hollywood Story” occurred from late 2008 until 2009 during which time a group of teens shocked all those who inhabited “The Hills” by pulling off a series of high profile burglaries. I remember seeing a lot of coverage on “TMZ”, back in the day, with sensational headlines regarding these daring bandits. I was not overly surprised that stars were targeted by brazen home invaders, but amused that all they really did was turn a doorknob and enter. Burglary, after all, usually entails having to overcome some security obstacle such as a lock, dog, moat, etc.
Director Coppola once again delivers a film that shows a different slant on celebrity, this time from the point of view of the have-nots who so desperately want s to have the haves. She first became interested in this project after reading the Vanity Fair article entitled: The Suspects Wore Louboutins. Determined to have teen actors playing the teen characters, Coppola and crew took almost a year to find the perfect team. Newcomers Katie Chang and Israel Broussard were handed the two lead roles and they performed like seasoned veterans. I got the chance to interview Mr. Broussard and was very impressed by his professionalism and easy-going demeanor. The Bling Ring also features; Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Claire Julien and Taissa Farmiga.
The film opens with Marc’s (Broussard) arrival at an alternative high school for troubled teens where he is quickly befriended by Rebecca (Chang). Rebecca appears to be some sort of kleptomaniac and grows emboldened by Marc’s puppy-dog devotion. When he invites her into a friend’s house for an impromptu house robbery, she suggests they kick it up a notch and go “shopping”. The next thing Marc knows he is stepping into Paris Hilton’s house uninvited. Before long they find their gang of two has grown into a posse of like-minded warped reality teens as the proverbial valley-girl Nicki (Watson), adopted little sister Sam (Farmiga), and the bold Chloe (Julien) tag along on their celebrity home invasions.
As with most true stories of good kids gone bad, this one also contains a family tree missing some important branches. From Marc’s vacant father, to Nicki’s former Playboy model-turned-new-age mom , Laurie (Mann), we are not really surprised by their actions here. Further adult corruption comes from a night-club manager, Ricky (Rossdale), who preys on the teen’s naiveté and contributes to their delinquency. After one of their high-profile break-ins is captured by a newly installed closed circuit video system and shows up on a television news piece, a few of the members get the dreaded sense that the end is near. It’s a case of too little too late.
Coppola spins a fascinating story of disconnected youth as a social commentary on our cultural obsession with all things celebrity. Why do we seem to idolize anyone who can hold the media’s attention long enough to collect their fifteen minutes of fame? Show like Survivor, Real Housewives (pick a city), Dance Moms, Jersey Shore, and even the ghastly Honey Boo Boo are turning nitwits, half-wits and no-wits into household names. What the hell is wrong with us? This film does a fantastic job of reminding us that too much of a good thing, or bad thing, is really a very bad thing on so many levels. It also provides a respite from the latest cinema movie about zombies, cartoons or super-heroes.