Popcorn Preview: The Bling Ring

Film: The Bling Ring (2013)
Cast includes: Katie Chang (A Birder's Guide to Everything), Israel Broussard (Flipped), Emma Watson (Harry Potter series), Leslie Mann (Knocked Up)
Director: Sofia Coppola (Somewhere)
Genre: Drama | Crime (90 minutes)

Night surveillance video shows teenagers going over the fence. The Hollywood Hills home has a lot of glass, and they try every sliding door until they find one that's not locked. "Let's go shopping," someone screams. And indeed, it's like a candy store... designer jewelry, handbags, shoes, clothes, underwear, cosmetics, hats... even pharmaceuticals and cash. The film is based on a 2010 article that appeared in Vanity Fare about a gang of teen burglars. Coming out of the courtroom, looking like a superstar, Nicki seems to welcome the spotlight. "I'm a firm believer in karma, and I think this situation is a huge learning lesson for me to grow and expand as a spiritual human being. I want to lead a country one day, for all I know." One year earlier, we see Nicki starting her day with breakfast and Adderall. "Let's do our morning prayers," says Mom. "Our chief aim in life is to strive for the greater good of the planet..."

Marc's first day at Indian Hills isn't promising. Even though it's a "dropout school," it's a very stylish student body. As Marc walks in, wearing an old sweatshirt, he hears "Oh my God. Really!" Marc has some "self loathing issues." OK, maybe he isn't ugly, "but I'm not an A-list kind of guy." That's why he is surprised that one of the cutest girls, Rebecca, befriends him. Before you know it, they are sharing their ambitions. "Go to New York... be famous and have my own line of clothes and cosmetics," says Rebecca. She soon shows Marc how to "check cars" looking for the unlocked one. You never know what you'll find... like today... $400 bucks. "Do you know anyone who's out of town?" she asks. Actually... Evan lives in Woodland Hills. Before you know it, Rebecca and Mark are at Evan's trying the doors. Rebecca makes herself at home. "Fuck. We need to get out of here!" "Don't freak out!... Look! it's a Birkin. Lindsay (Lohan) has a Birkin." Before they leave, Rebecca has filled the Birkin with goodies... hopefully, not enough to be obvious.

When Marc reads on the Internet that Paris Hilton is out of town, Rebecca wants to find her house... simple Google search. Before you know it, they're making frequent "shopping" trips to Paris's and inviting their friends. They are "insatiable and fearless." It's a whirlwind... expensive things, clubs, drugs, new Facebook photos, etc. Eventually, they're captured on surveillance video, and it's only a matter of time before the police will find the Hollywood Hills Burglars... aka "The Bling Ring." As much fun as it is watching kids delight in celebrity opulence, this film is actually hard to watch. Nicki, the one who wants to "lead a country one day, for all I know," is soon at the center of the ring. At no point does she show any glimmer of true morality... even though she liberally espouses love and peace, Agape style. "I loved her, almost like a sister. I really did," says Marc about Rebecca. "She was the first person I felt was, like, my best friend." The Vanity Fare interviews give us insights into their attitudes (much dialog comes directly from the article), and Sofia Coppola has tried to tell it without being judgmental... albeit, with some names and details changed. She leaves it to us to decide what we think. So if you're looking for remorse, you may not find this film satisfying. Marc "just wanted to be a part of the lifestyle... like everyone does."

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
Based on the Hollywood Hills teen burglars, who stole over $3 million worth of designer goods from celebrities

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Language, crime, drugs)
Audience: Young adults
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Primary Driver: Character development
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking

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