Being (only) the fourth full length feature Sofia Coppola has directed, the visual candy Somewhere is a proof, that this director has her own unique signature, unlike anybody else’s. Already from Virgin Suicides (1999) Coppola has been faithful to the same tonality of milky, though lively colors, relatively slow rhythm by long takes, and at some point to her characters, almost always trying to cope with some kind of crisis as silently as possible. Nevertheless, all these elements are present, the magic ingredient seems to be missing…
The story is about tired Hollywood movie star. This poor rich boy finds himself bored to death – he falls asleep while watching a strip-tease, fast cars are no longer fun, in short, he has had enough of the artificial show-biz world surrounding him. It seems that Coppola wanted to make herself really clear on this – the long and monotone takes of Stephen Dorff’s character’s life are really violent in their length and slowness. Things speed up a little, when he has to take care of his teenage daughter Cleo, which brings some life into his boring routines, as well as onto the screen. What else happens there? Actually nothing, since Coppola is not much of a story teller, seems, that she prefers to put on the screen the emotional evolution of her characters, instead of telling a series of (un)chronological events. At this point Somewhere really concentrates on the influence one character is having on the other; Cleo will be the power, making Dorff’s character leave the decadent surroundings of the scandalous Chateau Marmont.
This world of fancy hotels, men in crisis and a younger woman trying to bring them back to life reminds of Lost in Translation (2003), but unfortunately with a lot less relief. Somewhere‘s predecessor had more emotions and wittiness (how can one forget the lip my stockings scene?). Whilst this movie can be watched with the same expression all the way – no laughter, no sentiment, just a vague pensiveness, that will pursue you even after the credits. Too much emptiness makes this movie balance on the frontier of the plainness.
It would be fair to say that in comparison to her other (and better) movies, Somewhere is the less captivating one (ok, though nothing can compete with Marie Antoinette at this level). It seems that in her two last films Sofia Coppola limits her filmmaking with the visual aspects. Sound, really left at the background – if we can live peacefully with no dialogues, then music should be at it’s best, but no – almost all musical pieces in Somewhere seem to be like accidental. It’s like the music we hear at the cafés and other passing-by moments. Not elaborate at all, unfortunately… And returning once more to the visual aspect, it would be fair to say that her last pictures concentrate more on the glamourous surroundings than the persons, making them seem to be just tiny figurines in all this gloss..