Review: Somewhere

Wednesday, December 22 by

Welcome to Sofia Coppola’s inside Hollywood. We love inside Hollywood stories, whether it’s The Player or Entourage. Each one offers a different perspective on the movie star fantasy. Coppola’s perspective is bitter and resentful, but still fascinating to watch.

Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is an actor who indulges in debauchery any time he’s not working. He’s that type of guy you see, in way too good shape for how much he drinks, all stubbly and disheveled, handsome but absolutely nothing going on in there. Maybe a girl could fix him.

The film revels in how aloof Johnny is. He drinks, he smokes, he’ restless. He hires twin blonde strippers (Karissa and Kristina Shannon) to dance for him and just stares indirectly at them, or away from them. It’s open to interpretation. Johnny passes out while going down on another girl.

A scene about journalists goes way past irreverence. I would call it contempt and I don’t mind. Journalists at a press conference fire off questions without even waiting for answers. You’ll find it funny and the reality is actually not that interesting. Real inane journalist questions aren’t that amusing, and they do insist on hearing the answer before moving on.

Johnny is paranoid about the paparazzi stalking him. Hopeful actors hit him up for advice at parties.  Maybe it feels authentic because it’s Coppola, or maybe it’s just the right amount of intrusive behavior to be interesting.

This film can’t exist without the context of Lost in Translation though. It’s another character of an actor who feels unfulfilled and mopes through life, only now it’s in L.A. Somewhere is all about the same long scenes where characters just exist, and it’s still compelling. Somehow, Johnny is fascinating to watch. I hate this guy, but I’m captivated.

Johnny’s daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) stays with him for a few days before summer camp. Johnny really lights up for Cleo. There’s some life in him after all, but the film seems to hold him without responsibility, like he’s innocent and helpless. He could DO something.

The performance is good though. Dorff doesn’t take the easy way to sympathy and ultimately earns that one moment that you know is going to be his Oscar consideration clip.

You can tell Somewhere is a quality movie made by a real filmmaker with intent. Coppola makes good shots out of common actions, whether it’s going into an apartment building or banging the headboard during sex. The film leaves enough unspoken and the dialogue that’s there is filled with history.

I don’t see Somewhere captivating people long term like Coppola’s previous movies do, mainly because it’s so similar. Maybe if this came first, but once Lost in Translation exists, the next iteration of it is only a curiosity. A good one though, a valid perspective on similar themes.

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