Somewhere

December 20, 2010

 

**Originally published on Passionforcinema.com**


 

I have got a feeling that Somewhere, the latest offering from the uber talented Sofia Coppola, is going to get misjudged and underrated by many. The movie is yet to get a proper release in the US and other major locations, and whatever initial response it’s  getting from the few festival circles gives me a bad feeling. I could be wrong, but one thing is sure, Somewhere is not for everybody (I take too much pleasure in saying that!). And the few who is going to enjoy it, is going to enjoy it immensely. I was lucky enough to watch a screening of Somewhere at IFFK 2010. I remained doubtful for the first 40 minutes, liked it by the end and by the next day morning I was irreversibly in love with the movie.

 

The movie opens with this shot of a Ferrari speeding through an empty endless track. The car does lap after lap and finally stops in front of us (right about when we starts feeling a little weary about the scene). Johnny Marco (Played by Stephen Dorff) steps out of the car and stands there in the middle of nowhere. Right then the titles reads: ‘Somewhere’. The all-out brilliance of the movie is adequately reflected in this opening sequence. The monotony, the emptiness and everything that is going to be discussed ahead in the movie is essentially incorporated into this one astounding scene.  From there on Coppola takes us to travel closely with the life of this hot shot Hollywood actor Johnny Marco. From the suite of one luxury hotel to another (the movie has been pictured at several landmark Hollywood hotels like The Chateau Marmont, The Four Seasons etc.), we are painstakingly taken through the routines of the life of a superstar. Johnny’s life is brimming with the superabundance of all kind of luxuries, stuff you would never consider to be meaningless or insignificant, probably until you’ve got them in superabundance like our superstar here. We plunge right into the middle of this high living emptiness, and leave comprehending the emptiness for what it is. Coppola surely has got this upper hand when it is about filming the monotony in lives and we have seen that before. Like always, she lets her meticulously prepared visuals do the talking. All the humor, all the sarcasm and commentary is contained in her visuals and there is hardly much dialogues. So as we watch Johnny struggling hard to fit in with the invariability of his world, we’re also subtly made to observe and comment on the contradictions of a privileged celebrity lifestyle. Director takes her time in developing the mood for the film, perhaps time enough to scare off the non believers, but once she sets her pieces together, it’s all poetic.

Johnny, as we’ve already said, is kind of a loner. He doesn’t have too many intimate personal relationships. He drifts around in a party, being full of himself, caring for nobody else. He is separated with his wife and lives alone. Well, there is this one friend (Sammy) who occasionally shows up, there are his agents and other professionals and there are those groupies and hot chicks who comes and goes but never stays (there is also the twin pole dancers). The only exception to all these is Cleo, Johnny’s 11 year old daughter. Cleo is a smart, charming and instantly loveable character who seamlessly craves a spot for herself wherever you put her. She occasionally comes to her father’s place (no one place, per say) and spends a day or two with him. The father-daughter relationship is essentially one of the best things about the movie. It doesn’t get any more real than this. There are no ‘baby I love you so much-daddy I love you so much’ dialogues or moments. The bond is there and every viewer can feel it or even connect with it. Apparently, Sofia Coppola modeled this relationship (and the whole movie, for that matter) mostly around her own relationship with her father. So the authenticity can be tracked to that. The story is essentially about this delicate but important transition taking place in this relationships and how it affects the two characters.

Somewhere doesn’t have many dramatic moments in it. It’s only as dramatic as one normal day in your life. Our hero drives around in his Ferrari, lies in his hotel bedroom and smokes a lot of cigarettes for most part of the movie. There is nothing happening. It is going to be easily misunderstood as a boring and empty work. Well, maybe it does appear empty. But isn’t that the point? The humor like always is top-notch. The music is stirring. And the characters (Only two of them, actually) are all very well developed- they are complete. Coppola allows us to move in with these two characters, silently watch their lives, silently observe the small changes and final at the moment of an emotional breakdown we can’t help but feel for them. Subtle, but genius.

Stephen Dorff has come up with an exceptional performance. He is just perfect playing Johnny Marco and it is such a treat to watch him float around doing nothing. Same goes for Elle Fanning, who also manages to come up with a remarkable performance. She makes Cleo such a good reason for anybody to embark on a path of change.Somewhere is truly an amazing movie. It’s the kind that grows on you. I would like to consider it as a brilliant sequel to Lost in Translation. The craft of Sofia Coppola is absolutely evident in this work and it is amusing as always. But I would refrain from recommending this movie to anyone. Like I said, it may not be for everyone. But hey, who cares?

 

Original article at PassionforCinema.