THIS DOES CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS
Sofia Coppola seemed to have every Bill Murray fan and every indie film lover praising how fantastic her romantic drama Lost in Translation really was, but that was seven years ago. With films in her repertoire before and after that film, she’s set to conclude 2010 with her new drama Somewhere starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning and let’s just say it doesn’t leave quite as much of an impact as some of Coppola’s previous works.
Somewhere follows Johnny Marco (Dorff), a Hollywood actor who lives the rich life many people aspire to have. He has all the money he could ask for, an expensive car, women throwing themselves at him, pills to numb any sort of pain he doesn’t want to have, and is constantly in the public eye. Unfortunately for Johnny, he isn’t happy. His life feels empty and meaningless. That is until his ex-wife calls and drops they’re 11-year old daughter, Cleo (Fanning), into his lap to take care of while she takes a break for an indefinite amount of time in a location she doesn’t disclose. Life doesn’t seem quite so dull and lonely with Cleo in Johnny’s life. Fame and fortune doesn’t cure loneliness. Johnny begins to realize that you have to start fresh every once in awhile in order to avoid that sensation of standing still your entire life.
Somewhere is unusual right from the beginning. We see Johnny fall asleep during times when most people, especially males, would have sleep be the furthest thing from their minds; when twins are dancing on stripper poles in his bedroom, while going down on a girl at a party, and while having a mold made of his head. Somewhere also features some of the longest shots in cinematic history. It’s not just the fact that the scenes go on for long periods of time, but they feel like they last for eternity because they’re rather uneventful; scenes including sun bathing, an ice skating routine, and driving on roads for long periods of time. Scenes that seem to hold no significance other than to burn film and make its duration longer than it needs to be. Then there’s the awkward Benicio Del Toro cameo that just feels more out of place than anything.
There’s a relationship between a father and his daughter lying at the core of the film, but it’s difficult to try and care about something that is barely glossed over. Like many other aspects of the film that aren’t fleshed out to their full potential (Johnny driving an expensive car while wearing cheap clothes and living in a rundown hotel, Cleo disapproving of Johnny’s girlfriends, the vulgar texts from private numbers, and Johnny falling asleep at inopportune times), the relationship between Johnny and Cleo doesn’t feel like it’s fully developed while the surface of what is otherwise the heart of the film is barely even scratched upon.
The film does seem to have a bit of a misleading summary floating around. Maybe it was just misread, but it seemed to allude to the fact that Johnny was in the adult film making business or that he was just constantly sleeping with women left and right whose life is turned around once Cleo is seemingly and unexpectedly dropped on his doorstep. Johnny is a Hollywood actor who does have a way with women and does seem to have a way of spreading his love around, but the film seems to center around more women trying to get his attention than him actively pursuing the chase, so to speak. While it is touched upon that Johnny has been “gone all the time” and he apologizes for “not being around,” he seemed to have still been an active part in Cleo’s life just not as active as a caring father should have been.
The film seems to continuously tread water until the ending, which is both bizarre and strangely meaningful. Johnny is lost and lonely without his daughter around, so he starts over again from scratch. He decides to leave behind what makes him unhappy and pursue what will hopefully make him happy, which is something to be admired.
Somewhere comes off as more of a pointless journey than anything remotely witty or moving. The actors seem to kind of drift through the film with little or no emotion other than Fanning’s breakdown in the car and Dorff’s breakdown on the phone, which seemed slightly reminiscent of (but not nearly as good as) Patrick Bateman confessing to his hideous murders in American Psycho. Jackass regular Chris Pontius adds more at times being his goofy self and adding a bit of comic relief and emotion to an otherwise stale scene. Somewhere really seems to be nothing more than a glimmer of hope in what is otherwise a redundant trip into one man’s downward spiral through loneliness and depression while having both everything and nothing.
Sources: imdb.com, comingsoon.net, collider.com