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Film / The Bling Ring

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"Let's go shopping."
Rebecca Ahn

The Bling Ring is a 2013 teen crime drama film and the fifth film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It stars Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, and Leslie Mann, as well as newcomers Israel Broussard and Katie Chang.

Inspired by actual events, the story begins with Marc (Broussard), a teenage boy who has recently transferred to a school in Agoura Hills. Eager to fit in, he strikes up a friendship with the wild and free-spirited Rebecca (Chang), who idolizes Lindsay Lohan and the wider lifestyle of glitz and glamour surrounding her. It soon becomes clear that Rebecca has very little sense of inhibition towards her obsessions, and Marc becomes a tag-along to burglaries of unlocked cars and homes for personal thrills and high-end goods.

One day, they hear that Paris Hilton will be out of town for a few days. A quick Google search gives them her street address, and they even find her key under the doormat (a detail that was not invented for the movie). They're soon joined by their friends Nicki (Watson), her adoptive sister Sam (Farmiga) and Chloe (Claire Julien), embarking on a wild spree of robbing other celebrity houses for cash, jewelry and designer clothes.

The film opened the "Un Certain Regard" section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: None of the original people's names are used.
    • Marc was Nic in real life.
    • Rebecca was Rachel.
    • Nicki was Alexis.
    • Chloe was Courtney.
    • Sam was Tess.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: By their own admission.
    Nic Prugo: The character that Claire Julien plays, based on Courtney I believe — Claire did an amazing job and she's way hotter than [Courtney is] in real life.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Alexis Neiers's mother kicked her out in real life because of her drug use. Nicki's mother is here shown to be oblivious to what her daughter is up to.
  • Adapted Out: One of the thieves was a Mexican immigrant called Diana Tamayo, whom the authorities threatened with deportation. She has no counterpart in the film.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Marc; he's remarkably knowledgable about women's fashion, refers to another (male) student as hot, and enjoys wearing Paris Hilton's heels at home. He also never hits on any of the girls, and claims he loved Rebecca "like a sister". The man he was based on, Nic Prugo, is openly gay.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last scene has Nicki announcing that she will have her own reality show, suggesting that her time in the limelight is only beginning.
  • As Himself: Some celebrities show up as themselves, namely Paris Hilton, Kirsten Dunst and Lindsay Lohan.
  • Asian Airhead: Subverted. Despite Rebecca being vapid and materialistic, she does admittedly display a fair share of knowledge and craftiness on how to break into a house; waiting until the celebrity announces she's out of town, Googling the street address and finding ways to get in.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Of a sort, the Bling Ring gets what they wanted all along: fame and media attention.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Nicki's mother Laurie, who homeschools the girls based on lessons from The Secret and raised them in Religious Science.
  • Brainless Beauty: Nicki is hilariously vapid. After asserting her baby sister is doing good works in Africa (as an example of the morality of her family), she casually admits the name of the specific African country had slipped her mind.
  • Break the Haughty: This notably happens to Rebecca and Nicki. The latter is dragged from her house by the police, and reduced to a sobbing mess screaming for her mother. Rebecca is more combative with the police while they're searching her house, but drops the facade as soon as she hears that Lindsay Lohan knows about her. Her attempts to flee to her father are easily stopped as well.
  • Brick Joke: The gun found in Megan Fox's house goes off while Chloe and her boyfriend are about to do it.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • Chloe drives a car on drugs and crashes, immediately getting slammed with a DUI. Subverted when Rebecca does the same a few scenes later.
    • Subverted with the stealing: they rob celebrities for almost a year without getting caught, even robbing the same houses again and again. And Rebecca never gets caught for stealing money from non-famous people's houses and cars.
  • Car Porn: One oner focuses on a Porsche convertible folding its top.
  • Casting Gag: Emma Watson at the height of her fame as the extremely smart Hermione Granger playing a vapid, clueless girl who desperately wants fame and recognition.
  • Costume Porn: So many fancy clothes are worn in this movie. About 10% of shots are just of the various clothes the girls steal, and another 5% of them trying the clothes on.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The teens posting about what they stole on social media is actually an example. Social media took an extremely long time in the 2000s to become mainstream - and at the time the film takes place, it was mainly used by teenagers and college kids. It was also quite feasible to have many people in your social circle who weren't on it at all, especially if they were over twenty-five. It wasn't until The New '10s that using social media to catch criminals was really a thing, so the teens can be excused for not thinking they'd be found out that way.
  • Diegetic Switch: There are several instances of popular songs initially being played in scenes non-diegetically before switching to being heard from a speaker in the actual scene.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Rebecca's is after the party, where she tries to rob unlocked cars.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: When Nicki is arrested, she immediately starts screaming for her mother.
  • Fake-Hair Drama: Discussed in Nicki's interview. She says the other girls were complaining that they had to take their weaves and extensions out in prison. Lindsay Lohan was allowed to keep hers in.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Inverted where all four girls are shameless thieves for shallow reasons. Marc meanwhile has the more sympathetic motives.
  • Flat Character: Rebecca is the Lindsay Lohan fan, Marc is the Ambiguously Gay Token Good Teammate and Nicki is The Ditz. There isn't that much more depth to them.
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's known from the start that the teens will be caught and end up in the news over the robberies.
  • Freudian Excuse: Rebecca has a difficult home life and strained relationship with her mother.
  • Good-Times Montage: After the teens have gotten into their robbing habit, there's a montage of them partying and bragging about what they stole. It's this montage that features Nicki's infamous tongue roll.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: All the girls, except maybe Rebecca qualify.
  • Hero Worship: Rebecca for Lindsay Lohan.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sam and Nicki. Nicki's mother has essentially adopted Sam as another daughter.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Marc is shown to be the most moral of the thieves, but the film leaves out the fact that his real life counterpart stole money from his parents to feed his drug addiction.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Nicki is portrayed as a vapid ditz who gleefully takes part in all the burglaries. Alexis Neiers claimed she was drunk the first time she went along with the others, not knowing what was going on. She later slammed the film for its inaccuracies, though of course the truth of her statements is up for debate.
  • How We Got Here: A variation. We see clips of Marc and Nicki speaking about the burglaries interspersed at the start. It's eventually revealed they're talking to a Vanity Fair journalist.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Marc mainly takes part in the robberies to be with Rebecca, as he has no real friends in his area.
  • Karma Houdini: Sam manages to be the only one not caught, due to not being identified on the CCTV.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Nicki served 30 days in county jail for her involvement, she shared a cell with Lohan. But hey, what did she expect when one of her victims is a regular lawbreaker herself?
  • Lethally Stupid: Sam cavalierly brandishes a loaded gun in Marc's face, clearly enjoying how just scared he becomes. Essentially the entire scene has her pointing the gun either at him or at herself with her finger dangerously close to the trigger.
  • Lighter and Softer: Alexis Neiers's relationship with her mother was far rockier in real life that the movie depicts; she was kicked out of the house for doing drugs and had to stay in Nic Prugo's house. The film shows Nicki's mother as blissfully ignorant of her daughter's bad behaviour.
  • Likes Older Men: Chloe is dating night club manager Ricky, who she has Marc meet to sell stolen watches.
  • Living in a Furniture Store: Justified since we're seeing the homes of rich celebrities. And ultra-justified with Paris Hilton's home since those scenes were shot on location.
  • Loveable Rogue: Marc probably fits this the most, since he just wants to hang out with the girls and views the burglaries as bonding activities.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Nicki. Especially given the fact she's played by Emma Watson, working against type. A very brief scene in which she dances in a sexy fashion in a nightclub and licks her lips, taken from the trailer, was extensively screen-capped and made into anti-gifs in the months prior to the film's release (however, see the next item).
    • Pretty much every girl in the group counts since they all dress up provocatively and is shown either in their underwear or changing.
  • Mundane Solution: They manage to break into Paris Hilton's house by checking under her mat and finding the key there.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The aforementioned clip of Emma Watson dancing suggestively implied far more than the movie actually delivered. Indeed, anyone expecting more dancing and lip-licking will discover that the trailer actually contains the entirety of that particular scene.
  • New Transfer Student: Marc transferring to the area kicks off the plot.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: invoked The burglaries do get the kids fame and fans. Nicki especially takes advantage of it.
  • Not So Stoic: Rebecca's stoicism breaks when the police tell her they questioned Lindsay Lohan - showing that she desperately wants to know what her idol thinks of the business.
  • The One Guy:
    • Marc is this in the group of four girls.
    • Orlando Bloom is also the only male celebrity that gets robbed.
  • The Oner: There are several of them, including one showing why that Porsche is called a convertible and at least one complete burglary (specifically, a helicopter shot hovering almost in place above the house being burglarized).
  • Pop-Star Composer: Daniel Lopatin, better known as Oneohtrix Point Never, does the soundtrack.
  • Pretty in Mink: Quite a few furs are worn, including Nicki wearing a white rabbit fur vest.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Emma Watson's American accent was criticised by some. However, it's a near spot-on imitation of Alexis Neiers's real voice, on whom her character is based.
    • Not only did Paris Hilton actually leave the key under her mat, she left the door unlocked as well!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Once Marc is arrested, Rebecca tries to flee and go live with her father, but she's quickly caught.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Nicki has no problem in stripping down to underwear around others and she pulls open her jacket zipper to show some cleavage when a delivery man comes in.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Rebecca of the "Belinda Betrayer" variety. Despite being the mastermind of the operation, she instantly asks if she would get a lighter sentence for the names of her friends.
  • Team Power Walk: There's a slow-mo shot of them walking down a sidewalk around the middle of the film to this effect (shown in the page image), set to the opening of Kanye West's "Power".
  • Teens Are Monsters: Subverted. While their behavior is obnoxious and illegal, it's shown that the teens are very much a product of their environment and have more complicated reasons for doing what they do, with a main through line for everyone being their obsession with the celebrity lifestyle.
    • Rebecca - the real aggressor of the group - has a Freudian Excuse of a difficult home life.
    • Marc clearly goes along with it because he wants to be close to the girls.
    • Nicki and Sam meanwhile are shown to have an utterly clueless mother who indulges them.
  • Villain Protagonist: The protagonists are the thieves. That being said, the most sympathetic member is the one with the most screentime.