|Still from Somewhere|
Bluntly-stated Sofia Coppola’s fourth effort Somewhere isn’t her best work and after having raised the bar so high with The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, expectations of Filmgoers have left her nowhere to go but down. Where the Film does succeed is that it is an engaging study of a character who is easy to dislike, while at the same time it is a heartfelt story of the least saccharine kind, brimming with a sense of hope and redemption.
Somewhere is a story about a lonely Film Star perhaps past his prime, Johnny Marco, who calls the famed Château Marmont home. Commitment-free, the Playboy beds many adoring Women throughout the Film, while drinking and partying on the excessive. One anonymous spiteful ex-Lover succinctly calls him in a Text Message, "an Asshole".
One day his twelve year-old Daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota) shows up unexpectedly for an undetermined period as her Mother Layla (Lala Sloatman) must sort through some personal issues. Although interfering with his structure-free lifestyle, Johnny soon finds the experience rewarding, ultimately forcing him to re-evaluate his priorities in life after having been spoiled by Hollywood as an eternal adolescent. Is it too late though for Johnny to turn his life around and accept himself as a Man and a Father?
If you’re expecting Melodrama and Action, Somewhere isn’t for you. Its pacing albeit a bit slow with many gaps of silence filled by reactions and facial pensiveness, has us feeling like silent passengers in a Johnny’s Sports Car, seeing the world through his eyes. And this perhaps is what places Coppola in another category of Filmmaker altogether with her keen sensibility in portraying life unedited.
And in all honesty, the Film is chalk full of funny moments. Coppola has a unique sense of humour, knowing just how to draw humour from all things over-the-top. A scene which has Johnny at an Italian Awards Show, complete with tacky Golden Cat Sculptures plus sassy Dancers and Chanteuse, is irrefutably funny and typically fish-out-of-water, as is the case with many of her Heros/Heroines.
Other than the many fine visual moments helmed by Harris Sevides (Milk, Zodiac) effectively making us want to book a suite at Château Marmont, the best thing about Somewhere is that genuine Father-Daughter chemistry which both Dorff and Fanning possess as a duo. Fanning’s unadulterated view of the same World which has ruined her Father, is the one thing which keeps us grounded in this escape to the not-so-glamorous side of Hollywood. Without her, Dorff’s Johnny is incomplete.
Focus Features/Alliance Film’s Somewhere opens in select cities tomorrow and everywhere in North America on January 7, 2011. Grade: A-
To see my exclusive Recap of Somewhere's Toronto Premiere earlier this week with Stephen Dorff, click here.