Anyway, Somewhere, Sophia Coppola’s latest, is a lovely film. It is also, unfortunately, one that is going to perplex some moviegoers. I am not saying these moviegoers are idiots necessarily. Some of them will be but others will just be those who prefer a more sturdy narrative structure. It is not an action thriller. It is paced at a crawl.
Sounds like I didn’t like it from those last couple of sentences. I did. In fact I loved the film. It is a movie about a character, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), not about what that character does. One of the fascinating things about the film is how the audience knows who he is, basically, before he says a single thing. He doesn’t say much throughout the entire film and you still know who he is. You even kind of like him and his affable, confused look. The films slow pace is also perfect. It makes you feel like you are in Marco’s life, not just watching it. Big things do not happen. He is on the lookout for the paparazzi but they do not accost him.
Then there is his job. He is an actor. A good one? A bad one? No way to tell that from what is presented but he is a successful one. And there is a wonderful take on being an actor; Coppola portrays it as a job. It isn’t rolling asphalt or working in a steel mill. Nor is it that sort of “oh woe is the poor rich, famous actor” sort of nonsense that pops up now and again in films. He can afford twin strippers and gets treated like a prince. But then you get back to the character and he just doesn’t seem to care about any of it.
He does seem to care about is his daughter, Cleo, played with charm and poise by Elle Fanning. She is allowed to be childlike but, in some small way, shows that odd characteristic kids who have moderately irresponsible parents exhibit; the kids are more together than mom or dad. Keep in mind I am not talking about the children of crackheads, just moderate fuck-ups of the vaguely clueless variety.
The film should get Oscar attention (Coppola, Dorff and Fanning certainly but also camera and editing). I am not sure it will win many or any of these. It just isn’t flashy. It has the feel of a foreign film, an older foreign film; it has an air of The Passenger. One Oscar the film should get is for best Original Song, Phoenix’s Love Like a Sunset Part II (I think it is part II). It makes a scene in the movie, to say nothing of the trailer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I took that film studies class where the professor said “you don’t notice a good soundtrack.” That professor was full of shit and Phoenix should win for Best Song and could easily for best score as well. I noticed the sound and how integrated it was with the mood being conveyed as well—stripper poles squeaking un-sexily, for one.
Somewhere is one of those films you may not want to see when you are in the mood for Alien vs. Predator but if you love movies you should see it and maybe see it again. It is a film you will think about after you watch it, and probably like more as those synapses fire.