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Somewhere

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Somewhere, Movie image
Released on Friday, Dec 10 2010

Sofia Coppola continues her examination of loneliness and isolation among the rich and famous in her latest offering Somewhere. After a mixed reception for the eccentric period romp Marie Antoinette, she spends most of this film retreating to the hotel rooms that defined her signature feature Lost In Translation. The talented Stephen Dorff, who's spent much of his career on the B-list, takes centre stage as a jaded mega-star confined to room 59 of Hollywood's Chateau Marmont hotel. It's a beautifully shot, strongly acted and meditative piece... but crikey, it's oh so dreary and dull.

Dorff's Johnny Marco drives a turbo-charged black sports car, hires pole dancers to bop to Foo Fighters, drifts from one conquest to the next - occasionally falling asleep before even getting started! - and shares awkward lift encounters with other celebs (Benicio Del Toro as himself). He's a blue-collar type who appears to have found fame quickly and doesn't know what to do with his time. Junkets, press conferences and photocalls punctuate his stay at Chateau Marmont until his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) arrives for an extended visit. Johnny is forced to adjust his lifestyle to accommodate Cleo; they head off on an Italian press trip together, jam on Guitar Hero and form some semblance of a family with Johnny's childhood pal Sammy (Chris Pontius) regularly around.

The father/daughter bond at Somewhere's core provides an emotional backbone, although it's Cleo who appears to be the senior force in this particular dynamic, cooking for her dad and frowning disappointingly at one of his stay-over friends. Johnny is unsure how to be a father, but he recognises that Cleo is his sole meaningful relationship. He has all the money and fame in the world, yet is still chronically unhappy. This conundrum provides dramatic conflict if done right, but when Johnny has such privileges it's hard to really care. In fairness, Dorff and Fanning are excellent, but they're working off vapours - Coppola's story is too slight and uneventful for its own good.

The director cannily communicates the boredom experienced by Marco, yet the monotony is so convincing it appears to transmit through the screen and threatens to send you off into a slumber. Coppola seeks the keen sense of place and mood that was so hypnotic in Lost In Translation, but in Somewhere she's so spare and minimalist it almost flits the film away into nothingness. As expected, there's an impeccably chosen soundtrack - Phoenix's 'Love Like A Sunset' bookends the picture - lending a dreamy air to the visuals. Ultimately though, this is a film about vacuousness that's without much substance itself.


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