There are rampant vicarious delights in Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring; for starters, it’s astounding that the events in the film actually occurred. In 2009 a ring of five Los Angeles-based teenagers pilfered more than $3 million in goods from various celebrity homes after discovering, via simple Google searches, that the celebs were out of town at various events. Vanity Fair originally published a feature on the teenagers, then Sofia Coppola brought it to life on the screen in her trademark lush and stylized manner as a quasi-documentary. The teens are rendered as mostly vapid, stylish and empty – not even too attached to the things they steal – and seem to view their celebrity home break-ins as something fun to do, like clubbing. Emma Watson really shines in her role as one of the teens, and Gavin Rossdale plays a convincing douchebag club owner. Paris Hilton offered her own home for the film (and was one of their victims), so the audience is right there too, checking out her closets, jewelry, shoes, decor and artwork. Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan were also burglarized. If you’re not into materialism and celebrity culture, the film may feel a little thin at times – yet the point of the movie is that we are a society obsessed with both to our own detriment.
The thieving quintet is not particularly likeable, which pays off at the end, and their youth explains much by way of character development. It’s incredible that so many celebrity mansions were left seemingly unattended without blaring alarm systems, visiting relatives, vicious guard dogs, maids, pool people, or even a lone friend in a guest room. Paris Hilton kept her house key under her front mat, and her alarm system off. As a New Yorker, this blows my mind more than any other aspect of the film, including her self-portrait pillows. Those I could have imagined.