Somewhere (2010) Directed by Sofia Coppola

It's no big thing for me, but after Lost In Translation, very little has appealed to me about any of the cinema that Sofia Coppola has directed. I'm not sure why. I've read about each movie and even liked some of the ideas, but I have a small feeling that Coppola's Lost In Translation will be her boldest statement (and lets face it, it's a pretty special statement) and probably the movie she'll be most remembered for. There's a lot of surface about her movies. That's not a direct criticism, just how her films feel. The Virgin Suicides (although it's been awhile) is good. Marie Antoinette I've never seen – I've had the opportunity – but life mustn't be wasted on such trifles when a good Bruce Willis b-movie-actioner is available on any number of streaming services. Marie Antoinette was the moment that it felt like Coppola panicked and was trying too hard. I know some who rate it and who knows, once I've had my fill of Willis I may give it a go. Yippee-ki-yay-motherfucker! The Bling Ring movie just seems like more surface and a movie that interested people on Coppola's name alone.

A younger Dorff as doomed Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe in Backbeat (1994)
So, we were stuck in no internet hell, so no streaming, and a library in Turku with limited time led me to pull Somewhere off the shelf. I'd missed seeing Stephen Dorff in anything for many a decade. He lit up the screen as the early Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe in Backbeat before a series of teen movie disasters and B-movie hell took over (save for the odd John Waters or Oliver Stone pic). In Somewhere, it could be wishful thinking, but Dorff's character could be living an alternative real life career path, which doesn't include appearing in a Britney Spears video that packs a weightier punch in 4 minutes than the whole of Somewhere. Coppola works well in interiors, with mood and a cool, French (Phoenix this time) soundtrack. Amidst a-rockstar-like-life, Dorff's character reconnects with his daughter (a good Elle Fanning) and maybe re-examines his life.

Somewhere finds superstar Johnny Marco reconnect with daughter Cleo 
Somewhere is slight and Lost In Translation light. We really don't care for Dorff's superstar Johnny Marco. He really is a shallow arsehole and spending anytime with him in Somewhere only confirms this. There is no growing relationship or good humour which so informed Lost In Translation. Or if there is, it's too subtle to barely register. Yes, Somewhere looks good, it's classically shot and a couple of scenes register. But there's no Just Like Honey moment to redeem this, not even close. Somewhere is a cold movie, an exercise even. It's probable and possible that Somewhere was conceived and written on the back of a napkin in a swanky LA coffee house. That thought is something to consider before indulging in this. 

We watched Somewhere in a state of seclusion and boredom: a hotel setting with no comforts, bad food and hospital-like environment. It felt like were were nowhere. So somehow appropriate to view Somewhere in that stripped down, basic scenario. I have been a fan of Sofia Coppola's movies. I can totally admire surface and style and the lack of a deeper level or a constructed plot. Still, Somewhere felt like a loosely stringed snippet or a sketch. I could not help but to think that only very privileged people can make a film like this, because only monetary independence allows this level of indulgence.

Elle Fanning in Somewhere
There is nothing wrong with following a fluttering narrative, which constitutes nothing concrete to hold on to. There is nothing wrong either in describing the mundane, the routine or pointing out the arbitrariness of life. Yet, it seemed to me that Somewhere did some of the above, while struggling to make judgements, develop characters, devize a good ending or in any way use cinema as a meaningful art form. The ending of the film was the final blow to me. Without spoiling it, I just mention that the ending felt like a change of direction, a bewildered attempt at making a moral point.
Not successful.

Sofia Coppola with Phoenix
Then again: yet another great soundtrack in a Coppola film. Lovely use of the Phoenix's music. Funny scenes with pole dancing twins. Entertaining moments that felt very close to how 'real life' unravels with a preteen for example. I just don't fully understand why the director resides in hotel rooms or the experiences of washed-up male actors? Why especially when the same director has made Lost in Translation? Isn't there anything else to relate to? What about gender? How are the girls from Virgin Suicides doing now? Sofia Coppola is undoubtedly good as a writer and a director, this just wasn't her masterpiece. 


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