Sofia Coppola returns to the big screen with her fourth feature film ‘Somewhere’ a subtle, intimate look at life in Hollywood…
(Supposedly) All eyes fell on a proud Quentin Tarantino who presented Sofia Coppola with prestigious Venice Film Festival 2010 ‘Gold Lion’. When commenting on his former girlfriend’s work he said “…from that first enchanting screening, it grew and grew and grew in both our hearts, in our analysis, in our minds, and in our affections.” Coppola returns with ‘Somewhere’ a film which explores emotionally flawed and lonely characters with a patient pace. Slightly deja vu, but she excels here at analysing and discussing Hollywood a world she grew up in.
Johnny Marco the lead male character played by Stephen Dorff, is a successful but troubled actor trapped by his own fame and fortune. Living in Hollywood’s infamous Chateau Marmont Hotel, he struggles with boredom by womanising, drinking and his superficial heart throb actor duties with press and fans. He is forced to re evaluate his life and his misplaced commitment as a father to his 11 year old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning, sister of Dakota) when she stays with him for longer than expected. It’s a coming of age story, but perhaps not for the lost or ignorant teen but instead for the quintessential thirty-something bachelor.
The work audiences last saw from Coppola was ‘Marie Antoinette’, a fast paced, loud biopic of titled historic figure. A far departure from the signature tone of previous projects such as ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and ‘Lost in Translation’. Here she returns to that familiarity with great effect. It will be difficult for Coppola to escape the comparisons with ‘Lost in translation’ for it themes of loneliness and unlikely relationships. Both featured hotel settings, which implies a sense of ever-changing, disposable homes and the need for friendship.
The camera work is again what we are familiar with from Coppola, observant and subtle. Shots featuring the mundane as much as the spectacle. Favourite bizarre scenes that spring to mind are Johnny having a mold made of his head, him sitting in a hotel room picking up an apple and deciding not to eat it, watching strippers slide down poles in bed with a broken arm. She chose to work with cinematographer Harris Savides, who has also collaborated with Gus Van Sant. Savides brings to shots her vision with his recognizable approach, natural light, and an understated quality of solitude through shot sequences featuring the everyday boredom.
Credit must be given to this piece for discussing the middle of Hollywood success. Not many films analyse this period because it may not feature a climax. Here of course the narrative is driven by Johnny’s forced upon but nonetheless attempt at repairing his part time relationship with his daughter. Not the rise or fall but the everyday, ins and outs and trappings of present stardom and the effects of it upon the people and relationships that surround that.
Dorff and Fanning are excellent as the father and daughter who are in the midst of trying to redefine their once distant relationship. Fanning brings to screen an acute portrayal of a young pre-teen girl who is unsure of her place in her fathers life and can do this with one darted annoyed look across the table when she realises there’s a random woman at breakfast. Dorff also excels at bringing an initially un-likable character to audiences sympathy. ‘Somewhere’ is a gentle, melancholy look at Hollywood. The humour is in the awkwardness and so is the emotion.
Von Von Lamunu