Somewhere Movie Review
SOMEWHERE reminds me of the children’s story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ in which a couple of con-artists tell the emperor that their “invisible” clothes can only be seen by really smart people and the emperor is so vein that he accepts it and walks around with nothing on. That’s what Sofia Coppola has done to audiences with SOMEWHERE. She’s telling us there’s a deep, meaningful film here, but in reality, there’s absolutely nothing. We buy into it because LOST IN TRANSLATION was so brilliant and had such a wonderful, subtle context that we assume we’re just missing something. If someone tells you that you “just don’t get it” or that it’s too “subtle” for general audiences, don’t believe it. Despite winning The Venice Film Festival (thanks to her ex boyfriend Quentin Tarantino), this film is an utter waste of film stock.
There is no plot, character development, conflict or resolution in SOMEWHERE. We simply follow a lonely actor (Stephen Dorff) as he hangs around his hotel room drinking and smoking and occasionally takes a break to sleep with a slutty groupie. His daughter (Elle Fanning) shows up and that’s when I assumed some sort of conflict was going to take place. But no, instead of being lonely, he’s just lonely with his daughter around. He hardly talks to her and her presence doesn’t stop the sex with slutty girls. His daughter is a completely empty character in her own right, but that’s not the fault of Fanning (although she clearly lacks the natural talent of her sister), it’s the fault of Coppola for not even attempting to add depth to her character. She’s the daughter of a famous actor with a mother that doesn’t want her; you’d think there would be more emotion to her.
As for Johnny Marco (the actor), he seems to be what I picture Stephen Dorff is like in real life. He says virtually nothing and doesn’t have any comprehension of what’s going on around him. Or if he does, he doesn’t seem to care. Although Coppola tried to make a very artsy scene with him walking away from his car at the end, it was a weak effort when the rest of the film did nothing to lead us to that point. No one grew in this film and the feeble attempts from Sofia Coppola to try and tell a story without saying or doing anything wore on my nerves after about 30 minutes. That can work, but the characters have to do something, or go through something in order for us to care. Again, that was a tactic she used perfectly in LOST IN TRANSLATION, but must have lost the skill somewhere along the line. Only someone with a proven track record can make a film with a 20 page script. If a first-time writer/director had pitched this concept to a studio, they would have been laughed out of the room.
There are no rules to what makes a good film. You don’t have to have a lot of dialogue, action, romance or even good music (although anything would be better than this pop soundtrack from 2005 that she used). But your film does have to have a point and it does have to have some sort of conflict. Without a point or a conflict to overcome, we end up watching empty characters live out empty lives, which is exactly what SOMEWHERE showed us.