Sofia Coppola grew up at her famous director father’s side, seeing the glamor and the tedium of Hollywood firsthand. She explored this dichotomy with brilliant directness in Lost in Translation, with bubbly metaphor with Marie Antoinette, and now here.
However one might have enjoyed Translation or Antoinette, they were both gloriously watchable in both their quiet and their antic moments. Somewhere focuses on the tedium to the point where my companions and I were practically counting the unnecessary extra beats and minutes of a shot or scene aloud to keep ourselves entertained.
The official description of this film is “A hard-living Hollywood actor re-examines his life after his 11 year-old daughter surprises him with a visit.” Stephen Dorff plays the actor in question, one of greater fame and stature than Dorff is himself, meandering through an ostensibly successful career filled with monotony and arrested development. Elle Fanning is his inexplicably well-adjusted and accomplished daughter, abandoned on his doorstep by a mother as apparently useless as Dorff himself. Fanning’s onscreen parents’ inability to live despite all their advantages does not make us envy them or sympathize with them.
Coppola fills her movies with the same long, contemplative shots as she did in Lost in Translation, but here they lack the extra oomph of that film, brought then by an undercurrent of sexual/romantic tension, exotic locations, and actual character content.
If you love watching people skate, drive, sit, or watch other things, then you’ll love Somewhere. There is a scene wherein we are literally watching plaster dry, with an almost-imperceptible slow zoom in. Perversely, this was the one time the slow pull and static frame and silence actually worked for us.
Forty-eight minutes into the movie’s seemingly interminable sixty-seven minutes comes the inciting incident. The previous forty-seven minutes of fast-forward-able and thin exposition do not magically pay off after this. A friend who watched this without me reported that she enjoyed the broad strokes of the story, but had in fact fast forwarded the disc a few times. My companions and I chose this film to watch over the one where a guy cuts off his own arm, but I have to say we were more shocked by our reactions to this one.
Dorff and Fanning do the best they possibly can with scenes that afford them little chance to do much at all. Fanning straddles the fence between child and grownup — actually, Dorff does as well, but what could have been a journey of discovery or renewed closeness or realization or something became just a tone poem describing what was, is, and apparently ever shall be.
Somewhere is a haiku about a static life; consider yourself warned.
MPAA Rating R-sexual content, nudity, language
Release date 12/26/10
Time in minutes 67
Director Sofia Coppola
Studio Focus Features