Somewhere review

When Somewhere won the Golden Lion prize at the 2010 Venice Film Festival there were suggestions that it had been awarded to Sofia Coppola at least partly because she used to date Quentin Tarantino – the theory being that as President of the jury he would probably have had some influence on what was selected for the top prize. There may be something in that, we will never know for sure, but whatever the truth Somewhere is an oddly compelling film – as long as you’re in the right mood for it.

Johnny Marco (Dorff) is a film star with too much time on his hands. He drinks, he has sex with random women, he gets poledancing twins to perform routines in his room while he looks on with amusement. Every now and then he attends a press junket or photo shoot and occasionally he even sees his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Fanning) who lives with her mother. Then one day, citing a need to get away, she leaves Cleo with Johnny so he decides to take her with him on a trip to Italy promoting his latest film.

Anyone looking for anything as mundane as a plot should look elsewhere. As with Lost in Translation, Coppola is far more interested in how people cope with everyday life. Indeed, there are many parallels with the Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson movie with the pampered and apparently glamorous lifestyles of the rich and famous are pared back until we see the soulless, often loveless reality underneath. But unlike the Tokyo-based film, the relationship under scrutiny here is the one between father and daughter.

It’s a fascinating and unorthodox take on parenting as you might expect and Elle Fanning plays the young girl in a wonderfully natural way, while Dorff is the big kid personified. It’s a subtle investigation into how the two characters interact and almost certainly inspired by the writer-director’s own youth, spent with father Francis Ford Coppola and his international travels. The story is told more in looks and behaviour than through dialogue, and although this is something which fits well with the film’s languid pace, this is where it will most likely divide viewers.

The lack of any great drama or action and the long, lingering shots of inactivity may feel profoundly dull to some. Personally, I believe that the space Coppola gives the story, along with many exquisitely framed shots makes this a gentle joy to watch. As with the Joaquin Phoenix spoof documentary I‘m Still Here, Somewhere takes a look at fame and fortune and its effects on those involved, albeit in a very different way. So while self-consciously arty, this is a beautiful, occasionally amusing and ultimately moving film.

Official Site
Somewhere at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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