Review: SOMEWHERE (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Review: SOMEWHERE (2010)


Billed by some as a companion piece to the 2003's minimalism breakthrough LOST IN TRANSLATION, Sofia Coppola's fourth feature, SOMEWHERE, sees her returning to her familiar filmmaking root that made her famous in the first place after the mixed reception over her colorful period-piece of 2006's MARIE ANTOINETTE.

SOMEWHERE opens with a long single take, where we watch a black Ferrari circling the same isolated desert race track several times before coming to a stop. We see a man gets out, and starts walking around the car. The man, as we come across, is Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a burned-out action star in his 30s who is temporarily sidelined by a broken arm. He is now holed up at the Chateau Marmont, nursing for recovery while spending night after night watching pole dancers in the bedroom and several party hook-ups that usually end up with lots of booze and casual sex. Then every morning he wakes up, his schedule is consisting of press junkets as well as other appointments related to his next movie. To him, everything is all plain routine until of course, we learn that Johnny has an 11-year-old daughter named Cleo (Elle Fanning), who's dropped off for irregular visits by his ex-wife Layla (Lala Sloatman). Johnny doesn't bond much with Cleo like every regular father-and-daughter relationship, as Johnny is regularly busy with his routine. When Layla is out of town, Cleo is ultimately handed over to Johnny for time being. Soon Johnny and Cleo slowly getting along well for each other, as they spend their quality time together around the massive suite as well as going for a brief press tour to Italy.

Winner of the coveted Golden Lion at the recent Venice Film Festival, SOMEWHERE lays thick on heavy symbolism and everything is favored on an opaque style of European art-house sensibility that is all restrained to a bare minimum. Quite simply, Sofia Coppola's minimalist direction doesn't have the same wry charm that her award-winning LOST IN TRANSLATION receives so well by critics and viewers alike. Instead she has muted her filmmaking style that goes as remotely still as watching the paint dry. Harris Savides' cinematography is mostly stationary shot that only moves a few times if necessary. Many shots, e.g. the opening shot, linger for quite amount of time that it's almost a test of patience especially for regular viewers.

It's also not surprising that some viewers might accused Sofia Coppola's screenplay for being too self-indulgent about the subject matter she tackles here. It was reported that her inspiration here comes from her own real-life experience when she once accompanied her father Francis as he made movies around the world and lives in numerous hotels. In SOMEWHERE, nothing much happens here. In fact the whole movie is basically about nothingness and of course, the sheer boredom experienced remarkably by the aimless Johnny. Such radical move is either make-or-break, depending on how sustainable the overall effect Sofia manages to pull off here. The result doesn't work entirely well, since Sofia tends to go a bit too far over her filmmaking style.

While not exactly up to the cinematic triumph as successful as LOST IN TRANSLATION does, the movie remains a fairly intriguing experience, thanks to two intimate performances by Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Dorff, who is best known for playing bad guys in many movies in the past, gives a surprisingly restrained performance who spends most of the time reflecting his acting talent via telling body language and little dialogue. His given role offers the viewers the different side of Dorff we hardly come across before, and his Johnny Marco character is definitely serves him another breakthrough as an actor. Matching him equally is the very talented Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota, who is also impresses with her well-measured performance. We really feel the naturalistic flow between their onscreen father-and-daughter relationship together, yet convincing enough at the same time.

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