First Hit: Walks a very fine line between aggrandizing these thieves, seeing them as kids trying to fit in, celebrity worship, and viewing how out of touch these affected kids were.
The moment I began to lose interest in a section of the film, Director Sofia Coppola switched gears to show the repercussions of their actions – this is the only thing that made it work for me.
It was clear that Coppola was artfully walking this fine line. The film begins by cutting between telling the story and interviews with the teens pre and post-trial. The story goes that Marc (Israel Broussard) is a soft spoken that doesn’t like to go to school. He’s dropped off by his mom at yet another new school and she says, "have a good day at your new school".
Comments by mean-spirited kids begin immediately as he walks up the steps to his new school. Just as he’s leaving school, Rebecca (Katie Chang) walks up and chats him up. Like me, Marc thinks she’s going to do or say something rude to him, but instead takes him out with another friend and they get high on the beach. Rebecca suspects she can get Marc to do things with her and eventually invites him to go steal from one of his friend’s homes.
Caught between his knowing he’s doing something wrong and wanting to be liked by this beautiful girl keeps him in the game of doing more and larger thefts with her. Her other peers Nikki (Emma Watson), Chloe (Claire Julian), and Sam (Taissa Farmiga) all join in the fun of stealing from the celebrities’ homes and blow all their loot on drugs, liquor, and partying. When they get caught, Marc is contrite, Rebecca tries to make people she didn't do anything, but it is Nikki that steals all the scenes.
Her mother Laurie (Leslie Mann) is fully immersed in the teachings of “The Secret” and has raised her kids this way. Nikki’s public interviews and expressions of being misunderstood (“it will all be clear when my side of the story gets out”) with illusions of grandeur are fascinating.
Broussard is very strong as the meek, wanna fit in boy, who goes along with the thefts but the audience always knows it goes against his beliefs. Chang is a knockout as the conniving “in” girl who is fascinated with Lindsey Lohan. Watson is amazing and is showing some real variety and acting chops since the Harry Potter series has ended. Julian and Farmiga are very good as compatriots of the thieving team. Mann is superb as the disillusioned mom. Coppola did a great job of walking the fine line although the real lack of a strong opinion of her character’s acts could have been a weakness as well.
Overall: Scary to think that others might want to duplicated these kids’ acts. But definitely an interesting film.