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From Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette), comes the critically acclaimed Somewhere.
An intimate story set in contemporary Los Angeles, Somewhere is a witty, moving and empathetic look into the orbit of Hollywood actor Johnny Marco (played by Stephen Dorff).
We join Marco as he stumbles through a life of excess, living out of the legendary Chateau Marmont Hotel; he has a Ferrari to drive around in, and a constant stream of girls and pills to stay in with. Comfortably numbed, Johnny drifts along. Following an unexpected visit from his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (played wonderfully by Elle Fanning), their encounters encourage Johnny to face up to where he is with life, and confront the question that at some point we all must; which path in life will you take?
Filmed entirely on location, Somewhere reunites Sofia Coppola with her Lost in Translation editor Sarah Flack and production designer Anne Ross. Sofia's brother Roman Coppola takes on the role of producer, whilst her father Francis Ford Coppola is executive producer. The films atmospheric soundtrack is written by Grammy Award winning French band “Phoenix”.
The making of Somewhere
Director Sofia Coppola's career to date exemplifies the adage to "write what you know." For her fourth feature, Francis Ford Coppola's youngest child focuses on a famous man and his daughter. Actor Johnny Marco (a surprisingly poignant Stephen Dorff) stays in Tinseltown's Chateau Marmont while promoting his latest picture. When he isn't attending press junkets, he smokes, sleeps around, and hires blonde twins who pole-dance for his entertainment (they bring their own collapsible poles). At a party, he gets so drunk he falls and breaks his wrist. Into this adult scenario, his ex-wife drops off 11-year-old Cleo (Elle Fanning) for a visit. Despite the state of suspended adolescence in which he drifts, Johnny gets a kick out of this well-behaved kid, who skates like a champ and cooks like a pro. If Cleo doesn't quite worship her delinquent dad, she enjoys his company, but when Johnny finds out her mother needs to "take some time off," he must examine a life in which mind-numbing routine takes precedence over purpose. Somewhere represents Coppola's third film about a famous figure, after Marie Antoinette, and her second about a movie star, after Lost in Translation. Johnny shares Bob's frustration with a system that treats him more like a cog in the machine than a human being. Coppola conveys his frustration best when Johnny gets fitted for an old-age mask--a remarkable sequence in which Dorff looks like a plaster monster devoid of eyes and mouth, just two holes through which to breathe. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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The peerless 'Lost in Translation', and 'The Virgin Suicides' are about restraint, one internally and the other externally imposed.
'Somewhere' and 'Marie Antoinette' are about lack of restraint.
They could not, however, be more different.
The protagonist, Johnny, has it all and he has nothing. His recreations are casual sex and his Ferrari. He has freedom and money galore. But there is no focus to his life, that is until he is obliged to care for his pubescent daughter (Cleo). She is his emotional salvation and in her innocence is the antithesis of the other women in his life. She redeems him.
The film moves unhurriedly, sometimes very slowly. It give the viewer time to think. But it never grabbed me. I remained indifferent to Johnny's existence. I didn't care about him; but I did care about Cleo, though not excessively because I knew she would not be corrupted. Hence it almost, but not quite, failed for me.
Yes, I'll watch it again, but not for some time.
The plot in this film is minimal, and there is no cheesy epiphany tacked onto the end, like in a mainstream Hollywood film. The main protagonist is just as lost at the end as the the beginning, but this is what makes the film so great.
This is how relationships are in real life, complete with long pauses, and feelings of loneliness and isolation punctuated by moments of real connection with other human beings.
If this review has put you off, then good. You probably wouldn't like this film anyway. However give it a chance, and you will be stunned by this film.
Following a burned-out action star named Johnny (Stephen Dorff) as he spends a week with his heretofore neglected 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), while her mom -- whose relationship with Johnny, we assume, was brief -- is out of town, the movie acts as a fly on the wall while the unlikely pair bum around his massive suite at the Chateu Marmont, embark on a brief press tour to Italy, and learn some largely unspoken lessons about happiness, parenthood, and the ridiculousness of life in Hollywood.
Dorff made minor waves in the '90s as a tough-but-pretty boy in movies like "S.F.W.", which made him few friends in critical circles.
But even the actor's harshest critics would have to agree that this only makes him better suited for his role in "Somewhere", since the less you like him, the more believable the part becomes. And certainly it can be said that Elle Fanning does a more than adequate job of portraying the innocent but pensive preteen Cleo, but it's not an overly difficult job, since Cleo is not required to demonstrate a particularly large range of emotions.
But that's not a slight against anyone; emotionally, this movie is about Johnny. Indeed, even though we sit through plenty of obligatory scenes in which Cleo is just barely shielded from the hollow drinking and womanizing that fill Johnny's days when he isn't getting a hundred times more out of life just sitting by the pool with his little girl, Coppola makes it clear that Cleo is doing just fine. As long as her dad is around -- just enough to buy her a new backpack, hear her talk about Twilight, etc. -- she's okay.
Cleo doesn't need some big, torrential scene where she screams and cries about why her dad isn't around more -- he's around enough.
By the time the movie reaches any kind of emotional apex, it's clear that if there's a problem, it's Johnny's. Coppola's use of symbolism can be a little heavy-handed at times (the movie opens on Dorff in his sports car, literally driving in circles), but she still avoids coming off as trite.
This may be because she remains so restrained in the simplicity of her message. While there have been any number of films about parenthood, most all of them have attributed particularly grand meaning to it, espousing in all caps that good parents get more meaning out of life! Bad parents ruin their kids' lives! Whereas the message of "Somewhere" is much more nuanced: all you have to do is be there. Cammila Albertson
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