Sofia Coppola seems to have a reputation for exasperating her audience. Her last film, Marie Antoinette, received a harsh reception at Cannes. Antoinette was DOA when it reached cinemas which was unfortunate. Antoinette was an enjoyable, fluffy if forgettable film that served its purpose. Its biggest problem wasn’t its historical inaccuracy (it never tries to be accurate), but its self-indulgent tone. Somewhere is the opposite.
Despite the timid and critical reaction to this film, this is the type of film that should be seen with an open mind. It will polarise audiences, its tone is sedate, the pacing is slow and it’s not especially dramatic – more like a lazy Sunday morning, but it manages to capture your attention.
It shares some DNA with Lost in Translation and instead of Scarlett Johansson we have Stephen Dorff, a ‘bad boy’ actor with rugged looks who likes to have fun. In one scene he has strippers dance for him and the strippers just so happen to be identical twins.
As it has an eye for mood over exposition or action, the plot is not too easy to explain. In essence Dorff’s Johnny Marco, was a once famous actor who has lost his way. Nothing interests him, he lives the good life but knows it’s hollow.
The film starts with Johnny racing his Ferrari around a race track several times, a monotonous, routine that lacks purpose and sums up his life at that moment. Johnny is an asshole (we know this from the text messages left calling him so). His attitude to women is poor and Coppola presents these character defects as having had an adverse affect on his persona. He’s the person who wanders around a party in his own flat isolated from everyone else. His life has become one big non-event and he knows it.
That’s until his daughter Cleo (a charming Elle Fanning) comes over and stays for a few weeks, shaking him out of his stupor. It’s in his interactions with his daughter where he finally finds a sense of purpose, which by extension brings the two of them closer together.
It’s also where the film finds its identity and if you don’t mind the rambling, directionless feel that Coppola brings then there’s plenty to enjoy by letting the film wash over you. It’s not revelatory in any sense, but this is a pleasant, diverting trip that takes its time and only asks the audience to have a little faith in its storytelling. For that reason Somewhere is worth the trip.