At times I feel bad I don’t enjoy Sofia Coppola as much as I wish because I find it rather easy to recognize the sort of energy she puts into her work because talent is oozing on every frame, but at the same time some of her films are a struggle for me to find complete investment in. While the notable exception of Lost in Translation stands out as her strongest film (considering the fact that it also happens to be one of my own all-time favourite films), the closest that she has ever managed to come to topping what she presented in said film is within 2011’s Somewhere. But I look at how Sofia Coppola handles similar subject matter and it all makes sense on the spot, but maybe it could be in her approach to these topics where I find her at some of her most fascinating.
Earning fame is one thing but being washed away as a result is another. Stephen Dorff stars as the subject for Somewhere, Johnny Marco. Recently, he has only acquired it but he never feels any sort of change taking place within his life. But soon his daughter comes by to visit and stays with him for a period of time, and now a chance for him to re-evaluate his own life choices has come about. From the bat it already draws comparisons to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and soon it made sense why this easily has found itself to become one of her most intriguing works. It comes down to the subject matter which she is handling and how she forms a background that creates a resonating effect in the audience’s mind and Somewhere quickly becomes her best film since Lost in Translation.
If I were to speak of the background to which Sofia Coppola is forming towards Somewhere, there are many moments of little interaction between characters from one another, something that at times can make its 98 minute length feel longer than it actually is. While this move can be rather grating, there’s another level of beauty to which Somewhere immerses itself within and quickly it brings back memories that pertain to the films of Michelangelo Antonioni and this sense of discomfort only shows in a sense what having so much for one’s own sake does to a person. It was clear enough from the way Marco watches over a pair of twins who perform very suggestive dances for him. Yet upon a time he watches his daughter perform a figure skating routine, that alienation from his reaction to the dancers is still present – but Sofia Coppola keeps the camera lingering upon the entire routine only to highlight a greater sense of boredom on Marco end, for all throughout he still feels a deep lack of real connection.
The title “somewhere” already feels it calls out for much greater lengths regarding the place in life where Marco intends to be, because he’s inside such a disconnected state and only carries a greater resentment towards the general direction of his life at the rate it moves, he only wants to head to a specific “somewhere.” Like Lost in Translation, Somewhere is a film about how lack of real connection brings specific tendencies out of people within any sort of class. But even though this “somewhere” isn’t a particularly specific area, the idea that the search for it makes Somewhere‘s own commentary stronger. This supposed “somewhere” could be a place where happiness is perfectly found everywhere one looks in contrast to the aura of depression and alienation that Sofia Coppola creates for her film.
It would be easy enough to say that this is may as well be Stephen Dorff’s finest hour on the screen in terms of how he forms the film’s mood through his detachment with everything around him, but Elle Fanning’s performance also is a stunner. Where Somewhere develops more beyond themes that Coppola has already retained so commonly through her work comes from how she handles the relationship between Johnny and Cleo, the latter of whom is helping the former with gaining a better grasp upon the movement of the world. Cleo, having grown up within the Hollywood scene in part, watches over Johnny almost in some way like a mother figure just as Johnny is discovering how come his previous relationship had failed from her presence in his life. Coppola keeps her focus on the two with an incredibly observational eye that builds empathy all across the board, which becomes the film’s greatest asset.
Certain moments may get to some whether it be the repetition or the sequences of seemingly little movement being felt, Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere finds herself at great heights once again. In some way it almost drew memories of Michelangelo Antonioni, but one can go ahead and watch this as a companion piece to Lost in Translation and find moments of intimacy with the environment she forms and it creates resonance in the same way Lost in Translation has done so. In life, there is a “somewhere” we desire to find because it is a place where we believe happiness is set to be found, but maybe “somewhere” isn’t so far from us after all – for maybe other people bring us closer too. It’s no different from watching life take place in front of our own eyes, with the occasional grating monotony.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Universal.
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Screenplay by Sofia Coppola
Produced by G. Mac Brown, Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola
Starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Michelle Monaghan
Release Year: 2010
Running Time: 98 minutes