Blink, and you won't miss very much

JUST LIKE REAL: In Sofia Coppola's latest film, The Bling Ring, Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame plays Nicki, a member of a celebrity-obsessed crime ring. The movie is based on true events.


    Sep 12, 2013

    Blink, and you won't miss very much



    Crime drama/91 minutes

    Rating: 3/5


    YOU only live once.

    Yes, that mantra, more gratingly abbreviated to YOLO by today's youth, is the battle cry of a generation largely obsessed with celebrity culture and all that the notion entails.

    So obsessed, really, that back in 2008 and 2009, a gang of fame-hungry Southern California teens took that carpe diem sentiment, and their idol worship too far - committing a series of brazen burglaries that reportedly amassed spoils of US$3 million.

    Their unsuspecting victims?

    Hollywood celebrities like Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan.

    The group - dubbed the Bling Ring by United States media as the case unfurled - are now the subject of this drama of the same name by Oscar-winning director Sofia Coppola.

    The film is based on a 2010 Vanity Fair article, The Suspects Wore Loboutins, by journalist Nancy Jo Sales, but the characters have been given different names, so as not to give the culprits any more unwarranted attention.

    Now, the movie, like Coppola's previous works such as The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Lost In Translation (2003), is beautifully shot, with rich colours and an almost-dream-like feel.

    In a stark contrast, this is juxtaposed with the oftentimes inconceivable storyline and vapid dialogue between characters.

    The cast consists of mostly fresh faces, including Korean-American actress Katie Chang and Israel Broussard, who star as the group's icy ringleader, Rebecca, and her less-confident sidekick, Marc, respectively.

    And the actors do a pretty decent job of portraying the self-entitled bunch - which can't be hard, considering how vacuous the characters are.

    Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, however, is a tad shaky in her role as skanky aspiring model Nicki, especially where the unconvincing valley-girl accent is concerned.

    All in all, it's virtually impossible to sympathise with these young people.

    We watch as they "go shopping" at various celebrity mansions - victim Hilton actually allowed Coppola to film in her home - snagging everything from jewellery to designer luggage and even a whole collection of Rolex watches from actor Orlando Bloom's home.

    All this, with nary a (visible) smidgeon of guilt.

    The film starts to lose steam in the second half as the burglary scenes are a tad repetitive, and it starts to feel like you're watching a bad MTV reality show.

    Still, it is satisfying to see the young crooks get their just deserts as the movie wraps up.

    The real Bling Ring, by the way, are either serving, or have served, various jail terms for their misdeeds.

    One of them, Alexis Neiers, on whom Watson's Nicki character is based, has even worked the media attention in her favour, having become somewhat of a celebrity with various television and modelling appearances.

    Well, you know what they say: YOLO.