10 Critical Thoughts About… Somewhere

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10 Critical Thoughts About… Somewhere

Highly specific observations on Sofia Coppola's slow-moving Hollywood reverie.

Somewhere 1

In the semi-autobiographical Somewhere, Sofia Coppola follows sleazy movie star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) as he tries to fix broken relationships — with his empty lifestyle, with his daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), and with himself.

1. You do you, and let Sofia Coppola do her.
Wah, wah, I want more plot-driven narrative, I want more dialogue, I want something to happen. Then go read Twilight, nerd. Movies get to use sights and sounds and mix them together on big, pretty screens. Sofia Coppola delivers long, meditative, often gorgeously soundtracked scenes, because that's what cinema lets Sofia Coppola do.

2. Fine, let's talk substance.
Famous actor Johnny wanders through his decorative but ultimately empty life, a hazy affair punctured by the arrival of his not-quite estranged daughter, Cleo. The movie lightly traces the father-daughter relationship — and even divulges hard facts on occasion — but mostly just saunters through stylishly detailed vignettes, letting you divine the big picture. It's done well but won't be everybody's cup of tea, especially if you like tea in your teacup.

3. Lost in Translation: Episode I
This movie about a numb movie star drifting through fancy international hotels recalls that other Coppola movie with a numb movie star drif… you get it. Stephen Dorff's Marco comes dangerously close to resembling a younger version of Bill Murray's Bob Harris — particularly during his encounter with the Italian media — but instead of Scarlett Johansson, he has every other woman in the world ever.

4. Also, what kind of movies does this guy do?
He's clearly a Bad-Boy Hollywood Type (I'm still mad at my guidance counselor for not telling me about that wonderful career option), so maybe action movies? He's got a cast that he says he got from performing a "stunt," so probably action. I kind of wish we got to see a clip. I guess that's probably too goofy for a movie like Somewhere. Still, I wanna see!

5. Ah, the swimming-pool scene.
Sometime ago, around the time of Rushmore, indie-ish films have forced actors to do things underwater, preferably in pools. It doesn't even matter what they do down there, because their directors fiercely believe that mere underwater-ness develops characters. Except farting — they probably shouldn't fart.

6. The lady knows how to use the music.
There's an early scene in Harmony Korine's Gummo with two boys riding their bikes down a hill, doom-metal blaring throughout. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen, and I suspect it's one of the coolest things Sofia Coppola has ever seen as well. Somewhere's got drawn-out scenes of, say, two blond sisters pole dancing to the Foo Fighters, or Johnny and Cleo sunbathing to Julian Casablancas, and it's all awesome.

Somewhere 27. That Fanning kid is going places.
Look, I don't know much about what the kids are doing, and, as long as it's not on my lawn, I couldn't care less. But this Elle Fanning girl, she's got talent. And she's how old? And wait a second, Wikipedia — there's another one of these girls? And she's also talented and *cough* my age? Nevermind, I hate them.

8. Oh hey, is Sofia Coppola still with that dude from Phoenix?
Yes, yes she is. French band Phoenix, who helped soundtrack Lost in Translation and even made a cameo in Marie Antoinette, provides some music here. But why couldn't she date a dude from also-French band Air, whose dreamy Virgin Suicides soundtrack was powerful enough to make even Josh Hartnett seem cool?

9. Did you take a taxi cab to summer camp?
I remember getting to Lake Whatever in a rickety old bus with a rickety old driver who probably died immediately after delivering us to our cabins. Cleo, however, enters a camp-branded taxi, waving an emotional goodbye to her father, who, by the way, is entering a helicopter that makes my dad's sedan look like a dad's sedan. It almost makes you forget that these people drink wine from cans.

10. Don't buy popcorn.
It's a fairly quiet movie, with a lot of moods waiting to be killed by loud snacks. Don't be that guy.