Sofia Coppola burst into the filmmaking scene in 1999, writing and directing an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Virgin Suicides.” After also writing and directing 2003’s “Lost In Translation” and 2006’s “Marie Antoinette,” Coppola returns with “Somewhere,” another stellar film to add to her already-impressive resume.
“Somewhere” tells the story of Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a directionless B-movie star facing an existential crisis triggered by a surprise extended visit by his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) as he travels the world promoting his latest blockbuster.
While plot is sparse, it would be inaccurate to call “Somewhere” a simple film. Emotionally complex and beautifully sombre, “Somewhere” is one of the most impressive films of 2010. Under Coppola’s meticulous direction, “Somewhere” demystifies the “glamorous” celebrity lifestyle, revealing it as a mundane existence. Finding both hilarity and immense ennui in the repetitious celebrity lifestyle, Coppola’s expert direction is the film’s greatest asset.
The film’s focus lies on the connection between Johnny and Cleo, putting pressure on its leads to deliver the goods. Thankfully, both Dorff and Fanning prove to be more than capable in their respective roles. In a nuanced and career-defining performance, Stephen Dorff (“Blade”) embodies the restlessness and awakening of Johnny to the realities of fatherhood. With a script featuring a minimal amount of dialogue, it’s up to Dorff to physically convey much of Johnny’s internal struggle, and Dorff does so with aplomb.
Equally impressive is Elle Fanning (“Reservation Road”), capturing both the innocence and growing wisdom of a young girl on the verge of adolescence. The heart and soul of the film, Fanning charms and her presence lightens what would otherwise be pitch-black. Perhaps even more telling of Fanning’s subtle impact is that when Cleo eventually exits the narrative, we feel just as empty as Johnny does.
Those who were not impressed with Sofia Coppola’s earlier films will find “Somewhere” a tedious exercise in minimalism. However, for fans of Coppola, or anyone seeking something slightly off-track from their typical movie-going experience, “Somewhere” will not disappoint. Enlightening and poignant, “Somewhere” deserves all of the accolades it has received.