Viau’s View/ Scott Viau
As a culture, we seem to become more obsessed with fame, beauty and riches every day. For some, that obsession turns into a compulsive urge to acquire more and more things in order to be like the people they admire. For a group of teenagers in Los Angeles, that urge pushed them to steal millions of dollars worth of clothes, jewelry and other goods.
When Marc enrolls at a new school he meets Rebecca (played by relative newcomers Israel Broussard and Katie Chang) and they start to hang out. Soon, Rebecca wants to know if there’s anyone whose house they can go break into. Marc gives a suggestion and they go there and end up taking a large amount of money. Realizing they can commit these crimes without being caught, they break into Paris Hilton’s house when they see on a gossip website that she is hosting a party in Las Vegas. When they brag to their friends about it, they immediately want to go. “Let’s go to Paris’s. I want to rob,” says Nicki, played by Emma Watson. But as the gang of thieves begin to target more and more celebrity homes, their luck is beginning to quickly run out.
“The Bling Ring” is actually a thinly veiled retelling of the true story of the Hollywood Hills burglaries and is based on the Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins.” There was a short lived reality series on E! called “Pretty Wild” that featured Alexis Neiers, a member of the bling ring who would later plead no contest to the crimes, claiming that she was drunk and misinformed when the crimes occurred. Emma Watson plays her in the film and in most scenes knocks Neiers distinct speech pattern out of the park. In others, she sounds like she still has a British accent. It’s kind of odd.
“The Bling Ring” is as shallow as the teenagers on the screen, but that just serves the movie. It doesn’t delve too deep into the lives of the antagonists. There are fleeting glimpses, but nothing substantial. But that’s the point. These characters are so vapid and mindless that they have no greater goals or bigger aspirations than to rob celebrity houses and take what they want.
But it’s their greed that gets them in the end. If anything, “The Bling Ring” can be viewed as a morality tale, but I think it has more to do with how we perceive celebrities as these almost mythic beings and idolize them in a way that can lead us down a wayward path. Marc is the only character that can illicit any sort of sympathy as it was never his idea in the first place to rob houses. But desperate for friends, he goes along for the ride and gets sucked up in the crimes.
Director Sofia Coppola certainly did her research in order to authentically portray the way youth talks today. The characters are constantly churning out words like “sick” and “chill.” It actually makes them even less likable, as they just sound like idiots, which is what they are.
“The Bling Ring” is an interesting take on where we are as a society. It’s not as compelling as some of Coppola’s earlier films, like “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation,” but it makes an entertaining 90 minutes on the nature of fame and infamy. “The Bling Ring” is available to purchase now on iTunes and will be available for rental Tuesday.