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Review: Another Sofia Coppola fishbowl with 'The Bling Ring'

"The Bling Ring"
"The Bling Ring"

Contrary to popular belief, Paris Hilton is not famous for no reason. She’s famous because people pay attention. That’s the only reason that matters. What people drink up about Hilton and other celebrities is their high life: fashion, parties, fast cars, and the VIP treatment. It’s why girls want to be princesses and housewives want to be Real Housewives of (Insert City Here).

In 2008 and 2009, a group of privileged teenagers got closer to Paris Hilton than anyone could have imagined. They broke into her house a number of times, stealing jewelry, clothes, shoes, money and more. Paris, apparently, never noticed. So the teens moved on to other celebrities with short shelf-lives, like Lindsay Lohan and Audrina Patridge.

Sofia Coppola brings the notorious Hollywood Hills Burglars to the screen in The Bling Ring, but it’s hard to see why. Though the film has style, it walks a very thin line between glamorizing the crimes and making fun of the criminals. It’s hard to say exactly what Coppola’s point is, if she has one. But maybe that’s precisely what she’s after: making these snotty teenagers famous simply because they became stories on the news.

The thieves aren’t stealing to steal; they’re ripping off celebrities because they want to be like their icons. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, but imitation fashion just won’t do. So they aim for the real thing. The ringleader of the outfit (Katie Chang) persuades her high school’s shy but resourceful new kid (Israel Broussard) to find Paris’ address and get the ball rolling. Eventually, they’re joined by a trio of club-hoppers (including Emma Watson, doing fine intentionally unintentional comedic work).

The Bling Ring has a lot more sizzle than it does steak, and Coppola’s lack of clear perspective is troubling. But it’s a fun fishbowl to peer into so long as you don’t have a reason to look in the first place.

The Bling Ring: Starring Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, directed by Sofia Coppola, rated R, 90 mins.