So we’ve been a little distracted lately with classic Lifetime movies (see: My Sweet Audrina and The Hazing Secret). But there’s something different about The Bling Ring – namely, it’s legitimately a really good movie (until the last like five minutes, but still). The excellence of this made-for-TV-movie is is on account of three things: a really fun ripped-from-the-headlines premise (a full two years before Sofia Coppola ripped the same story for her movie), the mega acting chops of Austin Butler and Yin Chang aka Gossip Girl‘s Nelly Yuki, and perhaps most importantly…
That’s right, you guys. Before he was creating custom couture for Hulu’s hottest ob/gyn, The Mindy Project‘s Salvador Perez was spinning straw into gold, delivering jaw-dropping fashion on a Lifetime movie’s budget. Hell yes.
So, The Shannara Chronicles/Carrie Diaries/Vanessa Hudgen’s boo Austin Butler stars as Zach, an LA teen tortured by anxiety and obsessed with fame. We first meet him a la Easy A in this YouTube confessional, which I guess we’re supposed to assume the movie is dramatizing, like it’s all one big flashback? Doesn’t really matter, because instead of cutting to this at any other point, they instead cut to talking heads of other cast members.
I said this movie was fab but like… Lifetime-level fab.
So Austin’s too anxious for school or for the child actor career his mother (Jennifer Grey!) always wanted, so he’s starting at this special school for kids who can’t cut it in traditional settings. They’re obtensibly there due to issues with truancy, learning disabilities, etc., but real talk: I think their fashion is just too advanced for anywhere else. And the eye of this style hurricane is Austin’s co-star, Blair Waldorf’s former nemesis/temporary minion NELLY YUKI.
Yes, that’s her convertible. And yes, she is wearing 5″ platform mary janes with thigh-highs held up with actual garters. Why? Because she’s Nelly Effing Yuki, that’s why.
You get your first whiff of Salvador Perez when you spot the number of perfectly selected accessories on this gang. Nelly’s drop earrings coordinate with her phone just like Mindy matches her coats to her Berkin(s), while the two supporting gals (literally named Moon and Cherry, no really) are sporting pieces way more artful than those of your average 17-year-old.
The teacher’s like, “Um, we have a dress code,” and she’s like, “So?” and he’s like, “Good point. I’ll allow it.” And she’s like, “Yeah, you will.”
Girl is slaying in this triple pearl strand AND bracelet, actually pulling off Halloween levels of costume jewelry with Vogue level panache. She doesn’t need remedial high school, throw her into a gifted and talented program.
Nelly takes new boy Austin under her wing like the lost little lamb he is, starting with a much-needed shopping trip/makeover!! I was a little worried when I saw her still in the same shoes, like the budget’s so low each character only gets one pair but spoiler- DON’T WORRY.
Oversized pearls are clearly her thing, as are blazers and the cool confidence of a teenage sociopath. She’s one part Blair Waldorf, one part Spencer Hastings and one part Charles Manson. Nelly Yuki sells the hell out of this role, gotta say.
Oh and she’s also a total klepto (… one part Hanna Marin) offering Austin this new lewk for his new life as her platonic BFF.
Anxious though he may be, Austin can’t turn down designer clothes and he heads out on the town with Nelly. Loving him in this perfectly-fitted shirt/belt combo, and dyinggg over her one-sleeved bodycon.
Clubbing’s not enough of a thrill for her, though, so things quickly escalate to breaking into Paris Hilton’s house. Or, since the door isn’t locked and the alarm isn’t on, it’s more just… entering. Another stunning Salvador Perez necklace party here. Nobody ever wears less than two strands at once.
As Austin half-heartedly trails after her like, “Ummm… maybe this is illegal?” Nelly’s busy deciding which of these pieces is better for a casual day look. Again, kudos to Salvador for fully nailing the sort of thing that would be in Paris Hilton’s 2007 closet AND the sorts of things that would catch Nelly’s eye.
Austin, ever the adoring acolyte, can’t turn down Nelly’s insane charm and finally follows her into Paris’s closet for an impromptu photo shoot. Real talk: if you’ve seen the other Bling Ring, you know this space is like, 1/100th the size of Paris Hilton’s IRL closet which has like, its own bathroom it’s so big. Also: there is nowhere near enough pink in here. Snaps for trying, set decoraters. I know you had a tight budget, especially considering I’m assuming the costume dept used up like 99% of the funds.
How much of a master break-and-enterer is Nelly? She not only nabs this pink dropwaist dress, but manages to pull the perfect earrings to complete the look for the next day at school. Salvador Perez, marry me. The pink in the earrings is just slightly off the color of the dress, making it all work together without being old lady matchy-matchy. Nelly is sort of like a teen Mindy Lahiri but slightly more unstable.
A few visits to Paris’s later and these two are selling their overflow merch on flea market tables at Venice Beach. With all due respect to the IRL theft victims, these two need to focus on some more male celebrity homes because Austin’s flannel look is not doing anything for him right now. Nelly, however, is in the sort of bespoke leather jacket Salvador Perez makes on the daily for Mindy Kaling these days.
Oh and remember their friend Cherry from school? A) This actress is a total scene-stealer and I love her, B) she is totally a baby Martha Plimpton, right? and C) I love everything about this outfit from the loose beachy waves to the slouchy hot pink stripey top to the giant necklace thrown on like an oh-so-casual afterthought. Naturally, she knows a guy who knows a guy so Nelly and Austin start selling their souvenirs on the black market.
This is Nelly Yuki’s most GG look in the whole movie, which I don’t think is a conscious homage to the actress’s most famous role so much as her character is really into schoolgirl looks and the black and gray is a classic combo. Of course she’s got seventeen strands of necklace on with her kicky skirt and ARGYLE SOCKS. Austin still needs to work on his day look.
As their criminal enterprise further develops with after-hours visits to the homes of both Audrina Patridge and Rachel Bilson, Nelly’s style develops a sort of glam punk edge with this glittery skull top and belt. The blazer keeps it all her trademark collegiate.
Cherry is still an amazing mess and I want a spinoff of this movie just about her. Love how each character’s look gets more over the top as the thefts pick up. The Perez touches here are not just the patterned top, but also the multicolored necklace, hoop earrings and bracelet. This film’s jewellery storage facility was clearly bigger than their version of Paris’s closet.
And then we get the final member of the team, in the form of That Girl Emma Watson Played In The Other Movie. She acts basically exactly like Emma Watson would two years later in the same role. This is a good shot of all the jewels on display in this one short sequence. Nelly wins with her stolen-from-Audrina-Patridge rock edge, but Baby Plimpton’s sneer could sell a weave to Amber Rose.
Or did I speak too soon? Behold Austin, all pimped out with bouffant hair following a visit to the home of then-married Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green. Tragically, he comes off as more Liberace than Timberlake but A+ for effort.
So The Bling Ring, now fully assembled, are cool enough to warrant a slo-mo walk to school. Austin is slaying in his vest and long-sleeve tee, while Cherry throws down a full Teen Mindy in this fit-and-flare with matching turqoise earrings AND necklace. Not sure who this other guy is, tbh.
Then out of nowhere, almost like the movie realized their hedonistic characters had very little stakes to build to a climax, Austin falls for this sweet normal girl. She’s incredibly bland, particularly compared to Nelly and Cherry, but the pattern mixing here is pretty varsity level. Pink roses with orange stripes? Yes, please.
Suddenly, although Nelly’s treated Austin more like a baby brother/pet this while time, she goes full SMG in Cruel Intentions with the jealousy over Austin’s new relaysh. Fittingly, she’s wearing this cape-like blousy top as her character takes a turn for the full-on villainous. That’s the danger of becoming BFFs with sociopaths: eventually, they will turn on you, too.
Surprise! She crashes Austin and Blandy’s frozen yogurt date to do the human version of basically peeing all over him so Blandy knows who he belongs to.
Austin’s like, “You don’t own me!” and she’s like, “Please, you know I do!” This look is more Audrina-chic, with the dog chain and the studs but with a Nelly-style blazer to make it her own.
Not Emma Watson doesn’t do much in the movie, but what she does do is put on this that would give Aria Montgomery pause. Like, that is fully a Swiffer worn as an earring, right?
Anyway, as Austin tries to pull away from Nelly’s codependent crime gang, she pulls him back in by victimizing Blandy. Hey, who wouldn’t trust this face when she invites you out clubbing and promising Austin will be there too? Nobody. Nobody should ever trust her, ever.
Then surprise! As Nelly watches with an arched brow, Blandy gets suuuupes drunk and they trick her into robbing Lindsay Lohan’s house with them.
This of course goes the way one might assume: Blandy freaks out on Austin, Austin freaks out on Nelly, and the cops creep ever-closer to catching this gang of teenage masterminds. To avoid capture/because she’s been here, done this, Nelly decides to move to live with her Dad in Las Vegas. Clearly she’s prepping for her new lifestyle with this ruffled leopard print top, the better to fit in when robbing casinos on The Strip.
But she doesn’t get away in time. She’s mid-toppling around, packing her luggage in 5″ heels, when the cops arrive to cuff her. The whole narrative of this movie was people so desperate for fame they were willing to commit crimes, and now the antiheroine shows up in a black flapper dress? Salvador Perez, you brilliant aquatic land mammal, did you dress her up in Chicago: The Musical cosplay??
For real, right? From the dropwaist to the pleated skirt to the “lavalier all the way down to her waist,” this is full-on Roxie Hart style.
Meanwhile, Austin’s made a deal with the cops where he’ll turn himself in as long as Blandy stays out of trouble. The lead detective, played by Angela’s Dad from My So-Called Life and who mysteriously seems to have not aged at all since the mid-90s, is like, “So, have we all learned something today?”
And Austin’s like, “Honestly? Not really.”
That’s literally it, you guys. He goes off to jail, maybe, we don’t know, and we all run off to watch the Sofia Coppola version to see how this story ends. Though to be fair, by the time they filmed this movie all the various criminal trials were probably still ongoing so the filmmakers had to make it up as they went along. As for me, I’m going to re-watch every episode Nelly Yuki appeared in because I didn’t realize how much I missed having her in my life.