Film Review: Somewhere (2010)

Sofia Coppola’s latest film Somewhere is a quiet meditation on the shallowness of celebrity.


Starring: Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning

Written and Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Distributed by Focus Features

98 minutes

I can’t stand slow films.

Nothing makes me more irritated when I’m watching a film then when the plot moves at a glacial pace. There’s one exception to this rule; the films of Sofia Coppola. Glacial is not the right word to describe her latest, Somewhere. I don’t want to scare any potential viewers off this great film, but the film definitely does not move quickly.

The pace and theme are set up in the very first scene where we watch bad boy movie star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) zoom around a track many times in his beautiful sports car. Johnny’s life is filled with many beautiful things that don’t really mean anything to him.

The more we get to know Johnny we see that behind the façade of a famous movie star is a lonely outcast whose only relationships are with hangers on and strippers. He goes from one meaningless sexual encounter to the next with no interest in having more.

He’s not a monster, he clearly loves his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) even though he does text while she ice skates, and sleeps with women while they’re on a trip together. Fanning is growing up into a very pretty girl and in this film at least, gives a much more understated performance then I’ve ever seen from her sister Dakota; I have a feeling these siblings just might be fighting for roles one day.

Never in my life did I think I would write these words, but like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, Stephen Dorff gives a great performance as someone whose success has turned against him. Both Bob and Johnny have everything they could ever want and yet they find themselves alone and miserable.

Coppola’s films aren’t about the story. If I was to analyse the story of Somewhere, I’d really get nowhere fast because the plot is extremely thin. Johnny has sex. Johnny hangs out with his daughter. Johnny drives around in his car. Instead Coppola’s films are all about mood. She has this great dreamy feel to all of her films and that sense is heightened even more so here by using old film stock of her father’s. (You may have heard of him, he directed a little film called The Godfather).

Also just like Lost in Translation, Somewhere is a beautiful looking film. The truth is rarely is there ever a Coppola film where I’m not completely in awe of the composition of every single shot.   With four features behind her now, Sofia Coppola is easily one of my favourite directors working today.

While I’d almost like to see her do something completely different for her next project, like, I don’t know a Hollywood action flick, I know that I will always be interested in seeing her films.

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