In Sofia Coppola's true-life tale, a gang of fame-obsessed teenagers rob a string of celebrity homes simply because they can. Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, and Paris Hilton are among the Hollywood stars targeted while they are away on holiday or just at a party. In some cases, the teens just walk into the houses through an unlocked door. In Paris Hilton's case, a key was apparently left under a mat. The five teens are no ordinary thieves - they take designer shoes, handbags and jewellery. Oh, and a rug. The cash they find is taken almost as an afterthought. Like the children they are, they pose for photographs with their haul - and post the pictures on Facebook for all to see. Their crime campaign is shown to be all too easy thanks to the Internet. All they need do is look up celebrity addresses on Google and thanks to Google Earth, access points are easy to find.
In the end, Bling Ring is a victim of its subject matter. These teens are shallow and self-obsessed. They worry about being attractive and having "hot bods". All they want are to be models or feature in music videos. No one aspires to have a "proper" job. They are aimless and directionless - and so is this film. Even at 90 minutes, The Bling Ring overstays its welcome. There's only so long you can spend watching people snorting coke and dancing in nightclubs; you quickly reach a point where you think, "For goodness sake, just get arrested already."
The Bling Ring are only caught because someone tips off police, despite security footage from one of the gang's robberies being shown on the news and the Internet. Perhaps the Los Angeles police didn't take the crimes seriously. Here adults are shown to be just as culpable as these teenagers, either by their absence or by their own preoccupations, whether that be relationship breakdown or New Age philosophy. In one scene, the mother of Emma Watson's character holds up a board with cut-out pictures of Angelina Jolie and asks what characteristics the actress is to be admired for. "Her husband?" comes the tart reply. While a TV reporter repeatedly asks what it was like being on the same prison cell block as Lindsay Lohan.
There are some good moments. I especially liked the arrest sequence near the film's end where one character is seen having breakfast with her parents - with the sound of police sirens growing nearer and louder in the background. But these do not a successful movie make. Coppola has a good ear for music and the soundtrack for Bling Ring is a good one. However, I take exception to the use of hip hop and rap consistently and repeatedly being used as the soundtrack to criminality. It's reached the point where as soon as you hear a hip hop track in a movie or TV show, you know it's only a matter of time before someone breaks the law.
The Bling Ring is in cinemas now