Someone could easily accuse me of having a slight prejudice against Sofia Coppola and I’d have a hard time coming up with a counter-argument. I enjoyed Lost in Translation, but found Marie Antoinette to be a lavish Vogue photospread with an admittedly excellent soundtrack. Her movies always feature waifish, lost young women navigating a world that bemuses them.
In Somewhere, the young woman is Cleo (played by the younger Fanning, Elle), daughter to the remarkably successful yet otherwise unremarkable actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff). Marco lives at the Chateau Marmont, that decadent LA hotel off Sunset that has seen its share of Hollywood debauchery. He whiles away his day having sex with very willing women, drinking Coronas, and generally hanging.
What can you do when your life of repetitive pleasure has made you so numb you can’t even enjoy a private pole dance by leggy blonde twins? Nothing, but oh, look, here’s your eleven-year-old daughter you’ve paid marginal attention to her whole life. Her mom’s having her own crisis and you have to take care of her for a few days before camp, so you head to Italy on a studio’s budget, eat gelato in bed, play Guitar Hero, and learn about deferred pleasure for the first time in your life (specifically, turning a naked girl in a sailor hat out of your bed).
Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford, no doubt had similar experiences trailing after a famous father and got to witness some major celebrity pitfalls. And what is her conclusion – “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us! Lonely, Confused & Searching”? It doesn’t help that Dorff, at least as Marco, coasts by on amiability and fading good looks. There’s no intensity in his desire to be an actor; he fell in it, and the life treats him well. There is a great acting moment by Fanning the younger at breakfast in Italy, with her father and her father’s morning after. She gazes critically at both the woman and her father and coolly assesses but does not judge. The whole movie can’t help but lighting up while Cleo is around because she’s the most dynamic part of it.
I’m not doing the film justice entirely. There are some very sweet moments between Marco and Cleo, and some beautiful shots poolside and in Italy. But the stretches in between them are few and far between. It was the cinematic expression of apathy, and I confess I couldn’t see the point.
More? Somewhere trailer