Thursday, 30 December 2010


2010. Dir: Sofia Coppola. Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Nunzio Alfredo 'Pupi' D'Angieri and Michelle Monaghan. ●●○○○

The Random House Dictionary defines metaphor as "something used, or regarded as being used, to represent smething else." As such it becomes a vital weapon in the armoury of the modern film maker, however like all tools it must be used sparingly lest the audience get wise to your tricks. Unfortunately no one told Somewhere director Sofia Coppola this so her latest film is so packed with metaphor it's virtually unwatchable.

In what little plot we have the camera listlessly follows Stephen Dorff's movie star - Johnny Marco - as he drifts from room to room in the Chateau Marmont following alternately his rampant libido or his pubescent daughter Cleo, played by Elle Fanning. During the 97 minute running time the odd couple manage to connect over computer games, breakfast and a quick visit to Italy in order for Marco to receive an award in an utterly bewildering way. When she isn't with him - I don't wish to completely slate his parenting abilities - Johnny also shags his neighbour and orders in hysterically inept pole-dancing twins.

Coppola seems to be trying to emulate her success with Lost in Translation, another film about lost souls wandering hotels, but where Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannson were at crossroads in their life there is nothng as tangible for Dorff and Fanning. In Tokyo both of our leads were experiencing cultures alien to them, here whilst the cult of celebrity Marco has to deal with is outside of our experiences it's a comfortable fit for him so thecamera is definitely an outsider to his life.

Dorff is fine, he is able to carry off the role of the bored movie star with aplomb, but like the rest of the movie he is unble to bring us in. Fanning also does good work but it's only a stepping stone for her. The rest of the cast barely register, even that sneaky lift based cameo.

The cinematography by Harris Savidas has a woozy charm and Sofia's script is not without it's incisive or comic touches and it has to be said the soundtrack selection is ace.

We end though with the metaphors, the films started with Johnny Marco drving around in circles and ended with him getting out the car and walking away. We get your point, Sofia, but this just isn't interesting enough.


TomS said...

I was excited about seeing this. Interesting comments, Ben. I can see where the film could easily go astray.

I must say it has one of the most charming trailers I have seen in years.

Thanks for the review....

Runs Like A Gay said...

It suffers because of the obvious comparisons with "Lost in Translation", which I loved, and it's a long way from that type of quality.

Time also has an effect; my opinion of "Somewhere" has fallen in the couple of weeks since I saw it. Not that it ever would have made the top ten of the year.

It's also very much a mood piece which probably reflects the opinion you bring in. I paid twice what I normally would, was trapped in a crowded art-house cinema and my ankle was throbbing a bit so I doubt I brought the right attitude.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I keep passing up the opportunity to see this, and I'm not sure why. It just comes off as something that's not essential viewing, and your review sort of mirrors.

Alex in Movieland said...

agree. it's didn't really work. it felt more like a camera exercise.

but I found it to be very watchable and I actually put it above other screeners in the priority list.

Runs Like A Gay said...

I agree Andrew there really isn't much to make you really want to see it. Not that it's bad, there's just nothing there. As Alex says a camera exercise.