January 6, 2011

Coppola's Newest Release Takes Us "Somewhere" Languid and Beautiful

If you like synchronized strip teases by twin sisters, then Somewhere may just be the film for you.

Sofia Coppola's 4th feature-length film, which saw limited release on Dec. 22, is about a man and his daughter living in a hotel. Somewhere follows in the footsteps of her previous releases (particularly Lost in Translation) as a positive affirmation of her unique style. As one who had grown up as the privileged daughter of renowned director Francis Ford Coppola, she clearly draws upon her own experiences in Hollywood.

Never one to rush a narrative, Coppola opens Somewhere on an empty stretch of desert road as we watch a car speed in circles in a static shot for over a minute. Slowly, she uncovers the life of a fictional well-known Hollywood actor, Johnny Marco, as portrayed by Stephen Dorff.

It doesn't take long for the viewer to realize that Marco, living out of LA's famous Chateau Marmont, is in a vicious cycle of mindless indulgence. He orders strippers to his room, engages in constant hook-ups, and nurses a habit of chain smoking. It becomes immediately clear, however, that Johnny finds his lifestyle to be unfulfilling. He is no longer enthusiastic about his acting career and bumbles his way through photo shoots and press junkets. Enter Cleo-- Marco's daughter from a long-dissolved relationship. Cleo, played by the charming Elle Fanning (younger sister to Dakota), is smart, talented, and caring. Quickly, she becomes the inspiration for Marco's lifestyle change.

While, like all of Sofia Coppola's films, the story seems to meander aimlessly, it serves as more of a vignette into an individual's lifestyle. Though it is originally difficult to find Johnny Marco likable, he is a warmer and markedly-changed man by the end of the film. The interplay between Dorff and Fanning is, perhaps, the strongest asset to the film. He provides a clear portrait of a man who has never truly become comfortable with fatherhood. Fanning's impeccable elegance and sophistication is uncanny for a girl of just 12. Though given her brilliant performance as a young girl with Tourette Syndrome in Phoebe in Wonderland, I was hardly surprised.

Coppola is one of the most visually-distinct contemporary directors. Each frame of Somewhere looks like a photograph by a professional artist. Her careful attention to detail in mise-en-scene pays off big time. The costuming and scenery are perfectly selected, the angles and composition are intriguing, and the lighting is beautiful. The soundtrack, mainly provided by Phoenix, complements the visuals without overwhelming them. Every one of her films reads like a personal memory, and Somewhere is no exception.

If constant action and dialogue is important to you, Somewhere will likely come as a snooze-fest. However, I'd highly recommend the film to anyone with a taste for a more subtle sort of story and consistently-beautiful imagery.

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If you like synchronized strip teases by twin sisters, then Somewhere may be the film for you. Sofia Coppola's 4th feature-length film, about a man and his daughter living in a hotel is a positive affirmation of her unique style.

Coppola tells the story of a fictional Hollywood actor, Johnny Marco, as portrayed by Stephen Dorff. It doesn't take long for the viewer to realize that Marco, living out of LA's famous Chateau Marmont, is dissatisfied with his career and in a vicious cycle of mindless indulgence. Elle Fanning plays Dorff's adolescent daughter, Cleo, and his lifestyle-changing inspiration.

The interplay between the two main characters is charming and honest. But if constant action and dialogue is important to you, Somewhere may come as a snooze-fest. However, like Coppola's previous films, it is a feast for the senses, with each frame like a perfectly-composed photo and a great soundtrack.

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Sofia Coppola's charming and visually-stunning 4th film, Somewhere tells the story of a dissatisfied Hollywood actor  in a vicious cycle of mindless indulgence in the Chateau Marmont, as portrayed by Stephen Dorff. Elle Fanning plays Dorff's adolescent daughter and lifestyle-changing inspiration. Though slow-moving, it is a beautiful father/daughter vignette.

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Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" boasts cinematic eye candy, slow understated story, and charming performances by Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning.

2 comments:

  1. Your twitter length review does a great job of still maintaining it's spice :)

    ReplyDelete
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