In 1999, Sofia Coppola finally escaped the dark shadow of her acting role in The Godfather Part III and revealed herself as a film maker to be taken seriously with the indie darling, The Virgin Suicides. She stepped it up a notch with the financial, critical and awards success of Lost in Translation in 2003. Three years later, there was the overly ambitious, but not overly successful Marie Antoinette. This year, Coppola gave us her most commercial attempt yet with The Bling Ring. But maybe a little scarred from the experience of Marie Antoinette, there was a movie in between. By far her smallest and most introspective, 2010’s Somewhere.
The character of Johnny Marco is a Tom Cruise style mega star. He’s been in blockbuster movies and is set to make more, but right now, he’s just chilling in his suite at the Chateau Marmont, playing video games with his best friend, hanging out with his young daughter and watching the odd double act pole dancing show. Like I said, just chilling.
He takes his daughter on a junket to Italy, he bangs around with women staying in his hotel, his car breaks down at one point, he has a broken arm that’s never explained and never needs to be. It really is just one person’s meandering life where you totally believe that even the most luxurious life would become mundane if you lived it for long enough. But again, none of this ever gets boring or seems indulgent on the part of Coppola or Dorff.
One aspect I really liked was Coppola’s decision to not make Dorff’s super star Marco some sort of tortured soul. He’s a great dad to his daughter, he seems to have a healthy relationship with the girl’s mother, he enjoys the benefits of being rich and famous in regards to women, but never seems to exploit them or be self loathing about his conquests. He’s nice to people around him without it ever being a comment on shallow celebrities. I’m worried I’m making Somewhere sound boring and inconsequential, but it’s really not.
It’s real in a way I don’t think I’d ever seen before, right down to the sound and lighting. It looks like there isn’t a single artificial light source or piece of audio added in later. Little things, like Dorff’s voice being almost inaudible over traffic when stuck on the side of the road, or hearing Foo Fighters blasting out of a stereo when the duel strippers do their thing all ad to the reality of Somewhere and show how the little things can make a big difference.