It is pretty much my policy to give Sofia Coppola a free pass. Her films all overflow with style and I know that even if I’m not blown away by the story, I’m going to enjoy the 90 or so minutes I spend in her world. This is very much the case with her latest, Somewhere – an exploration of Hollywood stardom. Stephen Dorff stars as the rather bored leading man Johnny Marco. He has the Ferrari and the girls (at least a night at a time), but is beginning to wonder what else the world has to offer him. He finds most of his pleasure in the time he spends with his daughter Cleo – played with impressive maturity by Elle Fanning. Johnny may not be the typical father, but his love for his daughter is unquestionable.
The more I reflect on this film, the more I appreciate it. Like all of Sofia Coppola’s movies, Somewhere doesn’t offer a lot of conclusions. When judged as a contained story, it can seem inconsequential – even frustrating. But the beauty is in the moments. Scenes such as Johnny explaining the banality of his entrance into the industry to a young and hungry actor are downright hilarious (and who will ever forget the pole dancing twins). There is a subtle and powerful realism to Johnny and Cleo’s relationship – Johnny watching Cleo swim in their en suite pool and later her reaction to his Italian date both come to mind. It’s addictive. You want to know if they make it work – which is probably where that niggling feeling of dissatisfaction you’re left with comes from. But hey, dissatisfaction is a big part of what this film is about. Somewhere may not be her best movie – but if you enjoy Sofia Coppola’s work and can appreciate the little moments, there is a lot here to savor.