CLICK HERE and WATCH Today's FREE MOVIES!
Hollywood actor Johnny Marco, nested in his luxury hotel of choice, is a stimulated man. Drinking, parties and women keep a creeping boredom under wraps in between jobs. He is the occasional father of a bright girl, Cleo, who may be spoiled but doesn't act it. When Cleo's mother drops her off and leaves town, Johnny brings her along for the ride, but can he fit an 11-year-old girl into his privileged lifestyle?
Release Date: 24 December 2010 (USA)
Empathy is really important to drama. Lot's of situations and characters go through dramatic changes and situations, but that in and of itself doesn't make drama, counter intuitive as it may sound. If it is impossible for an audience to connect with and empathize with the problems of a character is going through it doesn't really matter how the encounters changes the characters involved, it's not going to work as a story. You don't see that many films detailing the problems Hitler had rising to power in Germany for a reason.
So, while it may be that living in an apartment in the Chateau Marmont where you spend much of your night life going to parties and being approached by young women you don't know and have no connection to before being danced to sleep by a pair of identical twin blonde models, and spending your day life going out about the business of being a successful movie star, could in fact fill you with ennui and boredom … but that's going to be a pretty hard point of view to express to the 99.9999999999% of the world who will never, ever experience anything like that.
That said, it is to star Stephen Dorff's credit that he is able to imbue Johnny Marco, said movie star at the heart of Sophia Coppola's "Somewhere" with a fair degree of bathos, but there's still only so much anyone could do with this. Having a midlife crisis and wondering what happened to all of your dreams from youth in the face of life's reality is one thing. Having a midlife crisis and wondering how achieving all of your dreams from youth could turn out not to be as entirely fulfilling as you thought is something else again. It's not a bad idea, but it's probably never going to be better than an idea, either.
In a lot ways, that sums up "Somewhere" as a film, although as writer and director Coppola is skilled enough to introduce dynamics that sound tired – Johnny is awoken to how tired he is of his life when he is forced to care for his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) after his ex-wife checks herself into rehab – it's still an steep uphill struggle to make you care about a person who's major problem is that he may own a Ferrari but doesn't have anywhere he actually wants to take it.
Coppola herself has called "Somewhere" a deeply personal film and it shows in its attention to detail and moment, and ability to deliver character through scenes that are often lengthy and without dialog. Unfortunately it also shows in the films steep descent into solipsism.
It helps, a lot, that Dorff is better than he's ever been and he has real chemistry with co-star Fanning. It's unfortunate that she's only in a little more than half the film, popping in and out early before showing up on his doorstep and needing a place to stay at about the halfway point. It's not until that point that "Somewhere" actually starts to feel like it's headed somewhere, and that lackadaisical attitude to pace, combined with the subject matter, isn't particularly endearing.
There is potent inside-baseball feel to much of the film that actually aides the tone Coppola is going for. As "Somewhere" goes on, particularly once Johnny and Cleo land in Italy where he will be working on a film, it becomes easy to see just how aggravating some aspects of the movie star life could be as so much of it is empty public relations without meaning or connection. That's certainly the point Coppola seems to be making.
On the other hand, it's no great mystery from the get go what point it is she's making. The real question is, why should we care and there's never a decent answer given. Yes, Johnny's problems are certainly real to him, but they're not going to mean much to anyone else. And when you've got a character and story that while true are also unrelatable, all the craft and solid acting in the world isn't going to change that.