People staring into space doesn’t do anything. Unless it’s Bill Murray.
‘Somewhere’ follows Johnny Marco, a newly famous actor, as he recuperates from a minor injury at the Chateau Marmont, a well-known Hollywood retreat. Despite money, fame and professional success, Marco is trapped in an existential crisis and feels little emotion during his daily life. When his ex-wife suffers an unexplained breakdown and goes away, she leaves Cleo, their 11-year-old daughter, with him.
Writer/director Sofia Coppola knows an awful lot about having a very famous daddy and barely being able to see him, which is sort of the reason why this is an even bigger disappointment then I imagined.
Coppola does here what she’s done in practically all of her films but instead it feels like a cheap rip-off this time. She tries to, once again, shed a light on the whole art of “celebrity” and give us a glimpse into the life of a celebrity that I can’t really say that I felt connected to this let alone feeling like I was going to have much interest anyway. For this flick I wanted something new and instead I kind of felt a little bit cheated considering that Coppola does know what she’s doing behind the camera, it’s just the fact that she doesn’t know how to do a film where she isn’t focusing on a very rich and famous person being put through a whole bunch of depression.
Once again too, Coppola feels the need to give us these long, boring shots of barely anything happening such as Dorff just sitting in his room smoking and drinking beer, then another goes to him watching two twins pole-dancing to the Foo Fighters, and then to watching his daughter do some really cool ice skating routine. All of these shots come and go but stay for a very long time without any real emotion to what the story actually is.
There were times though where I felt like Coppola did a pretty good job with what she was trying to convey, especially when it came to this father-daughter relationship. These two obviously don’t have any real connection with each other but when they are both forced to be together, you realize that they both have fun together and treat each other nicely, which is what Dorff’s character needs considering all of the crazy shit that happens to him when his daughter isn’t around. There were a couple of scenes where I think Coppola hit the right note with trying to convey an emotion with this story but too many times did it sort of get lost in moments of random silence, and scenes where it just went on and on for no apparent reason.
Coppola also knows how to make a beautiful film here as well. Even though she is essentially poking a bit of fun at the whole “celebrity” high-life in LA, she still knows how to make this film look very vivid with colors that just pop-out and a surprising amount of cool cinematography. The hipster band Phoenix also provided the score for this film but they are barely ever even in it, which kind of disappointed me considering I think they would have made some cool background music for a lot of the scenes.
Stephen Dorff got his big “come-back” with this flick playing Johnny Marco because the guy has always had talent, he’s just never been in the right film to show it off. Dorff’s character is not a very likable guy. He takes advantage of everything he has practically been given, parties to the point of where he breaks his own arm, and has very little to offer his daughter when she comes around but somehow I liked this guy. I just had a feeling that he was a good guy and wanted to just make his daughter happy with him, even though he is not very skilled at doing so. Dorff is great with this performance because even though he barely says anything, you can see the sadness on his face the whole film and he just has this look to him that makes you want to empathize with him, even though you know he does all of this dumb shit.
Elle Fanning is even more impressive as the daughter Cleo because she plays up that “too wise for her age” role very well here to where everything she says seems very natural, rather than just being too cutesy or annoying. Her and Dorff have very good chemistry together and you can tell that through it, that these two love each other but don’t know how to inter-act and it’s really sad to watch but at the same time nice to watch, because they find ways to connect through some funky things such as Guitar Hero, playing ping-pong, or eating some delicious gelatos. It was also pretty awesome to seem some nice little cameos from the likes of Chris Pontius, Benicio Del Toro, and Michelle Monaghan.
Consensus: Somewhere has two great performances from Dorff and Fanning and features a nice little father-daughter story at the heart, but Sofia Coppola doesn’t do much here that she hasn’t done in all of her other flicks and packs way too many shots and scenes that don’t add anything to the real story.