Review by Jack Foley
SOFIA Coppola’s latest film offering Somewhere begins as it means to go on, with a lingering scene involving a sports car [a Ferrari] driving round and round in circles… sometimes speeding up, sometimes slowing down and sometimes drifting off-camera.
The ensuing film is similarly indulgent and one that poses serious question marks over the director’s ability as a filmmaker.
It follows Stephen Dorff’s actor Johnny Marco as he convalesces at Los Angeles’ notorious Chateau Marmont hotel following a hand injury and begins to realise the emptiness that has come to epitomise his life.
His listless state is, however, interrupted by the visits of his daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), who sometimes comes to stay and occasionally accompanies him on press commitments.
Admittedly, there are times when Somewhere shares a lot in common with Coppola’s beguiling first film, Lost in Translation, given its themes of loneliness and isolation.
But while that first film enchanted and was blessed with a beautifully innocent performance from Scarlett Johansson and a typically mesmerising one from Bill Murray, Somewhere has no such charisma driving it forward.
Indeed, there are several occasions when the film displays a complete lack of momentum – a trait admittedly possessed by its central character Marco and one of Coppola’s many points she’s trying to make.
But it’s hard to sympathise with a film that seeks to expose the more vacuous side of an industry that all too frequently bends over backwards to heap praise upon the filmmaker. Moreover, these are rich people who are bored… and emotionally shallow people who struggle to connect by virtue of their rich, decadent lifestyles.
Somewhere does sporadically come to life in the tender, and sometimes touching, scenes between Dorff and Fanning, whose father-daughter relationship is believable and even heartbreaking.
But whenever the film threatens to gain any traction, Coppola almost seems to wilfully sabotage herself, once again allowing the camera to linger for far too long on a redundant sequence, or something that underlines the boredom and emptiness of its central character’s existence.
Dorff, to be fair, shows some nice touches in the central role, but is given too much to carry and struggles to inject the type of ironic humour that Murray has in spades, while Fanning pitches her daughter just right – and is sorely missed whenever off-screen.
But fleeting plus points aside, this is very much a patience testing exercise in audience baiting that puts forward more to annoy the viewer than to satisfy them – and that includes a final scene that is every bit as infuriating as the one that opens the movie.
Indeed, perhaps the biggest irony surrounding Somewhere is that it’s a film that boasts a Ferrari as a central ‘character’, which still struggles to get out of first gear.
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: April 4, 2011