Based on fact, this comic thriller tracks the saga of the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch, who used the Web to time their robberies of stars' homes. The teenage band stole millions in cash, jewelry and other items from victims including Paris Hilton.
Marc and Rebecca meet in high school and bond over fashion magazines. He has an absentee dad in some kind of movie-creating role and wants to be a stylist! She wants to be a designer and is nice about sharing her drugs! Together, they do crime! Well, Rebecca does crime and Marc helps because she's very confident and he's pretty needy. Rebecca's kind of awesome, she clomps around in these huge boots and boosts unlocked cars like nothing could ever come of it. But she's a BAD PERSON, I guess, BAD.
Sofia Coppola has a strange way of telling a story. She just sort of puts this film out there, like gently rolling a ball down a hill and leaving the viewer to keep up or not. We start with a break-in towards the end of the Ring's spree, see the aftermath of them getting bested, and then jump back to the beginning for a very quick introduction to our two main thieves, Marc and Rebecca. Characters aren't really introduced so much as added in, and we get to know them a little bit, eventually. Burglar Number Three, Nicki-- her situation is the most clearly spelled out -- maybe because the real person from whom the character was drawn was especially available for study, I don't know. The film did seem to go out of its way to gawk especially at Nicki, with her gross, "The Secret"-believing mom and best-friend-mom both trying to give her media interview for her. Or maybe Nicki was so prominent because they had Emma Watson in the role. I wasn't even sure of all the kids' names until about two thirds of the way through. The thing is, I sort of enjoyed having to do this extra work! It certainly made me pay close attention to who knew what and what extra kid was brought along on what heist.
But still, I guess I wanted more motivation, more ability to understand them. OK, Nicki's weird because her mom thinks "The Secret" is both a spiritual program and a sustainable lifestyle. But Rebecca's the driving force of the ring, and Marc's the main point of view character, and there's never any attempt made to justify why those kids did what they did or why they are the way they are. They're not made sympathetic or unsympathetic -- Marc is lonely and insecure but he also goes along with whatever Rebecca wants with barely any show of resistance, and he's the one shown trying to actually monetize their loot. Rebecca comes off as a little more sociopathic, if only because we're given nothing, it's like you have to feel out that she's obsessed with Lindsey Lohan because she doesn't talk about it... There are two sustained moments that seem like the movie's trying to show us something -- Marc smoking pot and dancing by himself, in night vision, like he's trying to psych himself up for something that never happens, and Rebecca at Lohan's vanity table, looking like she's having a religious experience. The kids give so much weight and meaning to these celebrities and at the same time feel totally entitled to break into their homes and take their stuff. They want the look, that's all. The person doesn't exist.
What am I meant to think when I can't tell if the film wants me to sympathize with its entitled little monsters or to judge them? Nicki's household is held up practically as a circus exhibit. I feel like I'm supposed to side with Marc and hate Rebecca, because I'm shown everything from Marc's point of view, his misgivings, his occasional requests to be more careful, and I'm shown Rebecca clearly not giving a shit, trying to play dumb when the jig is up, but she's not careful enough to be an actual evil mastermind. She just wanted pretty things. They all did, and none of them seemed to care or even understand that it wasn't all just theirs to take. And the thing is, the film doesn't make much of a case that their crimes mattered either. Shouldn't it matter, a little bit, that they repeatedly paw through Paris Hilton's closet?
The soundtrack is great, in fact I liked the overall use of sound a lot. Coppola's very good at shifting from an objective point-of-view to Marc's inner emotional voice. But as a movie, and I feel like I say this a lot, but I don't know if this is actually good. I guess I sort of liked it? In a frustrated way? It was a strikingly weird form of storytelling and I couldn't even say if it was deliberate. Paris Hilton is a real sport.