‘The Bling Ring,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery. But what if you want to imitate someone so badly that you’re willing to steal from them? Where does that fall on the sincerity meter?

That’s just one of the issues raised in Sofia Coppola’s drily witty and up-to-the-minute film, “The Bling Ring.” Based on the Vanity Fair account of a group of teen burglars who robbed the homes of stars in the Hollywood Hills, Coppola’s film not only tells their story but burrows deep into a social strata that seems to float just below the surface of everyday consciousness.

Those of us in the reality-based world are aware that social media on the Internet have created an alternate universe, one that exists whether you’re plugged into it or not. Millenials live in worlds of texts, tweets and other postings that their parents have no clue about; even careful, tuned-in parents are not nearly wired enough to keep up.

The parents of the characters in “The Bling Ring” checked out long ago. They’re absentee or they’re simply so self-absorbed that they can’t see their own kids for what they are. That’s true, for example, of the family unit headed by Leslie Mann, who home-schools her daughter Nicki (Emma Watson) and Nicki’s friend Sam (Taissa Farmiga), who she’s sort-of adopted – but Mom’s main textbook is Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.”

Nicki and Sam are among the queen bees of a small party-hard clique of friends at a Calabasas high school for underachievers or behavioral problems. The real leader seems to be Rebecca (Katie Chang), a child of divorce who befriends new kid Marc (Israel Broussard) on his first day at the high school.

Rebecca tantalizes Marc with her bad behavior, even as she offers him a friend in a new school who won’t judge him for being gay but not quite out. She, in turn, provides a corrupting influence: When they leave a party together one night, she gets him to join her in checking the doors on parked cars. When they find one unlocked, she quickly searches it for valuables, then moves on. Before long, he’s joined the game. Anyone dumb enough to leave a key in the car will find it missing when they return.

Before long, Rebecca is telling Marc stories of her adventures sneaking into the homes of friends she knows aren’t home.

This review continues on my website.

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