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COLUMN: Revisiting the Ultimate Hollywood Heist with "The Bling Ring”


"The Bling Ring" starring Emma Watson was released June 21, 2013. Movie Stills Database Buy Photos

Picture this: A group of Los Angeles teenagers who are obsessed with everything celebrity and crave a lavish lifestyle so badly that they turn to crime to make their so-called “Fendi fantasies” a reality. But stealing from some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities still comes with a price.

Sounds like a great plot for a film, right? Well, this happened in real life, and the big screen was  calling ever since the suspects were caught. Before the glamour and girl power of "Ocean's 8" hit theaters this past summer, there was Sofia Coppola’s 2013 crime drama “The Bling Ring."

 "The Bling Ring" is a film centered around a group of teenagers living in an affluent neighborhood in California. Rebecca, played by Katie Chang, and Marc, played by Israel Broussard, meet at their alternative education high school. They bond over their shared obsession with fashion and celebrities.

Rebecca drags Marc into some illegal activity, like jacking cars, breaking into friends homes and doing drugs, but it wasn't enough for her. Rebecca wants to live a lifestyle that ‘everyone kind of wants.’  

So Rebecca and Marc round up their friends, party girls Chloe, played by Claire Pfister, Sam, played by Taissa Farmiga and Nicki, played by Emma Watson, to burglarize celebrities homes. They target Paris Hilton first. In the months that follow, they move on to the likes of Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan, stealing close to $3 million in high-end goods. Obviously, they get caught.

This film is fascinating because it has a simple plot yet pays extreme attention to detail. It's rare to find a scripted film so true to real-life events that it boasts what I would say half of its lines from real quotes. “The Bling Ring” is based on the article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales.

The story, which was published in Vanity Fair in March of 2010, recounted the tumultuous journey of the members who carried out the Hollywood Hills burglaries. Information in the article was told mostly through the eyes of the surprisingly candid Nick Prugo, one of the real- life ringleaders of the group.

The movie is straightforward. There's not much backstory on the characters, they never tell you how they all know each other or what their exact motivations are in pulling off these high stakes heists, but the unknown is what drives the film.

Each character is a cookie cutter creation of their L.A. environment, but Watson’s Nicki stands out above the rest as a snobby, one-dimensional party girl, who contradicts herself every time she opens her mouth. With a perfect valley girl twang, Watson makes the character easy to root for but annoying enough to dislike. 

"The Bling Ring" has that one thing that makes movies most interesting to me: the characters are doing things I enjoy watching, but would never dream of doing myself. Simple visuals, a great soundtrack and a gripping plot based on true events — that’s all you need to turn reality into entertainment.

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