I’ll get along with you – Somewhere review

Somewhere – Starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Directed by Sofia Coppola. Rated M. Originally published December 7, 2010. By Simon Miraudo.

It’s both easy and fun to dismiss films about sad rich people, but if we made it a rule, we’d be lumping classics like Citizen Kane and Ikiru with clunkers such as Eat Pray Love. With that caveat in mind, allow me to offer some praise to Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, a deliberately-paced and delicate little film about a superstar actor dragged out of his miserable existence by his sweet-hearted daughter. The movie is light on plot and free of conflict, but their inclusion would seem false. Somewhere offers us something far rarer and greater: a glimpse at an honest-to-goodness relationship. As father and daughter, Stephen Dorff and the luminous Elle Fanning build a true bond, the likes of which are captured on film as often as Bigfoot sightings. The ‘plot’ is their entire life; the ‘conflict’ is their entire relationship. Coppola and her fine cast give us a subtle taste of these characters’ existence, and share with us at the moments they’ll cherish forever.

With Somewhere, Coppola offers us an alternate take on the love story featured in Lost in Translation, and we once again spend a few happy weeks with two deeply lonely people. In Lost in Translation, we saw two American tourists – an over-the-hill actor and a depressed, directionless young woman – find solace whilst in Japan. Here, it’s an A-list actor’s relationship with his 11-year-old daughter, first in Los Angeles, later Rome, and finally Las Vegas. Bill Murray played the movie star in Lost in Translation, and it was difficult to separate the character from the actor. Here, the far-less-famous Stephen Dorff is playing badboy Johnny Marco. Because we can easily separate the two, we’re no longer looking for meta commentaries on the nature of fame. Instead, we can focus our attention on the perfectly-realised relationship at the film’s centre. It’s gorgeous.

The film begins – in a long but necessary stretch – with Johnny Marco engaging in depressingly debauched behaviour. Drinking and drugging with childhood buddy Sammy (a surprisingly warm Chris Pontius of Jackass fame); bedding a bevy of groupies, hangers-on, co-stars and general pulse-having women; enjoying the pole-dancing antics of uncoordinated blonde twins. It’s not exactly Salo, but it’s enough to sap the soul. Marco’s rare moments of pleasure are shared with his daughter Cleo (Fanning), although – thanks to his jet-setting lifestyle – these are limited to the occasional weekend visit. When Cleo’s mum does a runner, the unlikely duo is left to build a life together at the Chateau Marmont, and we are witness to their beautiful budding relationship.

Coppola, once the wunderkind director carrying on her father Francis Ford’s fine work, has been subjected to a fair share of backlash in the years following the release of her Oscar-winner Lost in Translation (and not just because she loves to romanticise ‘the other’, which she again does here with the gesticulating Italians). Her picture Marie Antoinette was met with widespread disdain, and her previous films were retroactively spurned for being “hip”, as if the marriage of lasting, indelible imagery with a chic soundtrack was the sign of a hack filmmaker. It’s not. For what it’s worth, these are the same criticisms that have been heaped on everyone from Crowe to Tarantino to Godard, so she’s in good company. Perhaps in direct response to her haters, Somewhere is Coppola’s “hippest” film yet; absolutely her least accessible movie, and most certainly her hardest-to-decipher. Of course, that’s merely because we’re always looking for the conflict, looking for the metaphors. It’s what we’re trained to do; so much so, that we often easily overlook a sweet, unassuming and simple film such as this. Coppola, Dorff and Fanning have given us a beautiful gift; 98 minutes of love, real and true.

4/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Somewhere is available to rent on DVD and Blu-ray.

One Response to “I’ll get along with you – Somewhere review”

  1. I wanted to walk out of the movie theatre within first 20 mins (only that long, because you first feel it may take you Somewhere-irony), that’s how boring this film is.

    LW

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