The Bling Ring 
Directors: Sofia Coppola
Screenplay: Sofia Coppola, Nancy Jo Sales
Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga
Running Time: 90 minutes
A funny thing happened while watching The Bling Ring. About halfway through the film, as the characters questioned their level of fame, my girlfriend whispered to me that “if this were real, they would have their own reality show by now.” When I informed her that the film is based on a true story, she couldn’t believe it (her prediction wasn’t too far off either — one of the girls actually was on a reality show called Pretty Wild, and of course, they also got a movie).
The concept behind The Bling Ring *is* absolutely ridiculous, and if it weren’t true, the film could easily be seen as a scathing satire of today’s obsession with celebrities and socialites.
When Marc Hall (Nick Prugo) transfers to a new high school, he quickly becomes friends with the fame-obsessed Rebecca Ahn (Rachel Lee). They bond over a joint or two before Rebecca gets a wild idea — why don’t they break into a rich home while the owners are out of town? Seemingly eager to make a new friend, Marc agrees, and the two of them hit up the abandoned house of an acquaintance. In there, they go to town, stealing clothes, jewelry, cash — basically anything that looks appealing to them.
Breaking into these mansions becomes a hobby for the two of them, and soon they have a few friends getting in on the action. Nicki (Emma Watson), Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe (Courtney Ames) are more than willing to join them, especially once they start targeting the homes of celebrities. Paris Hilton, in particular, is hit multiple times while she’s out of town. Her house is the easiest to get into — she simply leaves the keys under the doormat (why is that not surprising?).
The five of them continue robbing these targets over and over again, occasionally bringing more friends (and even Sam’s 13-year-old sister) along. They use their newfound money to buy even more clothes and jewelry, not to mention bags of coke when possible. They are “living the life”, at least in their eyes.
Of course, as this is based on a true story, there is no happy ending for these delinquents. This is shown as such at the beginning of the film when we hear Nicki give a spectacularly ditzy update to the press (“I might want to be the leader of a country someday, for all I know”). Emma Watson nails this role, expertly portraying the overwhelming superficiality present in her character. In fact, this entire group of young actors all excel here, with newcomer Israel Broussard being a major highlight as well.
At times, The Bling Ring feels like a bit much. Most of the film shows these kids getting high and breaking into homes, and none of the characters are exactly likeable. Director Sofia Coppola (responsible for two genuinely great films — Lost in Translation and the underrated Somewhere) nails the party lifestyle that this group so actively pursues, but the film may be too repetitive for its own good. Did we really need to see them go nuts over finding more Louboutin, Rolexes and other designer items more than two or three times? We see them break into Hilton’s home on multiple occasions — though I’m sure she loves the attention (her real house was even used in the movie, and she makes a cameo appearance).
Still, The Bling Ring is an entertaining film. There is something alluring about the trash culture that our society is so enamored with these days, and this film puts that all on display, for better or for worse.