The Bling Ring is a sly true-crime drama about a group of LA teens who repeatedly burgled Hollywood stars’ homes.
Cool and contemplative where Spring Breakers was brash and hot, the film feels like a thoughtful arthouse take on a trashy reality-TV show. It’s as if wong Kar-wai had commandeered Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Capturing their self-destructive boredom, Coppola’s camera follows ringleader Katie Chang as she reels in Emma Watson’s bratty club-rat and Israel Broussard’s wannabe to filch designer swag from the crowded closets of Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, Lindsay Lohan et al.
Who’d have guessed that Paris Hilton kept her key under the doormat? Or that Watson can pole-dance like a pro?
Coked to the gills, playing Chanel-and-Gucci dress-up and crashing stolen cars, the Bling Ringers’ addiction to the repeated highs of celeb-pilfering is coldly laid out. Meanwhile, Coppola’s trademark ambivalence hums away – the piles of Louboutin shoes and $8,000 handbags offering an implicit rebuke of Hollywood.
Scratching away at the criminal crew’s fake bravado, telling little interludes also point up the piss-poor parenting (Leslie Mann is pitch-perfect as a flakey New age mum), the status-anxiety and downright neediness fuelling this crime spree.
Aiming for a faster GoodFellas -style paranoia vibe in the last act, the film simply can’t pump enough drama out of the relentless repetition of thieving and partying.
Flatly watchful where it should be tense, its only real delight is Watson’s unsinkable bad-girl, shamelessly manipulating a Vanity Fair profile and the media buzz in pursuit of her 15 minutes of fame. “I might want to lead a country one day, for all i know,” she pouts at the paparazzi. You go, girl.
Sharp and shiny as the jewellery its twisted teens pilfer, Coppola’s cautionary tale eschews action for angsting about celeb-obsessed culture. Worth it just to hear Watson snarl “I wanna ROB!”