DIR/WRI: Sofia Coppola • PRO: G. Mac Brown, Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Jordan Stone • DOP: Harris Savides • ED: Sarah Flack • DES: Anne Ross • CAST: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius
In Sofia Coppola’s latest film, Stephen Dorff plays Johnny Marco, a fading Hollywood stud who resides at the Chateau Marmont – a plush hotel room that provides for his every whim, which mostly consists of pole-swinging amoebic automatons and depressing gatherings of over-oxygenated, partygoing Vogue zombies. Naturally Marco needs to learn that there’s more to life than the mundane excess of the beautiful, privileged people.
His anxious and depressed celebrity must come to terms with the illusion of self that his life in the Hollywood fast lane has bequeathed him. His illness of body, mind and soul comes to a head when he spends the weekend with his daughter.
Marco’s mawkish stab at redemption through his daughter is a narrative blow-out due to the fact that at no point is there an emotional investment to be had in Dorff’s character, if indeed he’s a character at all. Coppola never plays it straight. She eschews character and plot and avoids any predictable loose canon-father-learns-lesson-from-young-child Hollywood fare. There’s no clash of generations here, no tears or learning curve leading to understanding. But it’s all a bit too austere and the film’s distant insularity will produce feelings of apathy in many spectators.
The low-key nature of the film proves itself to be excruciating and its focus on the meandering existence of the privileged is a form of water torture. Imagine Coppola tapping you continuously on the forehead with her silver spoon while showing you photos of her childhood.
It’s obvious that the monotony of the film is that of Marco’s life. Coppola’s idiosyncrasies are focused on tedium, repetition, motionless shots and inconclusive vacillations and her style matches the film’s substance. Coppola’s ode to privileged angst is all a bit too banal and self-referential. There’s no denying Coppola’s sensual appreciation of image and she knows when the camera is doing a good job. But with Somewhere it all comes across a bit too hollow.
In the end Somewhere is a tedious construction of unremarkable, self-indulgent indifference and struggles to rise above the ennui its central character wrestles with. I for one don’t particularly revel in the company of an emotionally crippled, spoilt celebrity in the midst of an existential crisis.
Now where’s my popcorn. Oh! There it is – in my naval.
Somewhere is released 13th Dec 2010