Somewhere feels very much cut from the same cloth as Lost In Translation, a return to more personal, intimate filmmaking, after Sofia Coppola’s period production Marie Antoinette. Plot-wise the film is scant. Stephen Dorff plays a Hollywood star, living out of the Chateau Marmont. He bonds with his young daughter (Elle Fanning) but, when alone, faces periods of introspection and a lack of fulfilment regarding his day-to-day life.
Unlike the irascible Bill Murray, whose presence and weathered visage engenders an instant recognition and affection in Lost In Translation. Dorff comes with less baggage and is more of a blank canvas. This adds to the empty undefined character of Dorff’s Johnny Marco. From an audience point of view, however, it’s a stretch to feel sorry for someone who is essentially suffering from first word problems. Cruising L.A. in a Ferrari and having meaningless bedroom encounters with a willing conveyor belt of blondes. This is of course to be somewhat flippant. But what is clear is that Somewhere is intended as a tonal patchwork experiment, and is not so much built around a personality, as with Murray, but rather the lack of one. Marco is not a bad person, per se, but exists in a dislocated empty place, lacking meaning.
It may be unfair to raise the subject of her famous father, but writer/director Coppola jr, will likely mine from the life she has known, and much of the early period of her upbringing would have been spent in and around the business of film. The hanger’s-on, fawning and sometimes oddity of that life, seeps through the cracks of Somewhere. That’s not to say that it reflects her life at large, but it would be surprising if not refracted through her experiences in some way.
Johnny is constantly shown driving forward but going nowhere, a visual metaphor used throughout. Images linger, such as an infinitesimally slow track in on Marco’s entombed head whilst he is undergoing a facial mould at a make-up effects facility – or a beautiful topless woman having her hair cut on the balcony of the hotel. Probably the subtlest film in Coppola’s short career to date, Somewhere is collection of snapshots and episodes, without payoff in the conventional sense. It simply builds to a cumulative evocation of aimlessness, like a holiday without end.
UK Release Date: December 10, 2010