Friday, March 11, 2011

SOMEWHERE Doesn't Go Anywhere

SOMEWHERE (Dir. Sofia Coppola, 2010)

"And I thought my life was meaningless!" - Moviegoer overheard coming out of this movie at the Colony Theater opening weekend.

Pampered movie star Stephen Dorff spends his days partying at the famous Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles nursing a broken arm after an unspecified on set stunt.

Dorff lays in bed drunk watching blonde twins poll dance in his hotel room, he drives a race car around a track over and over, he picks up various women; basically he is spiritually wasting away between press junkets.

Then his daughter (Elle Fanning) shows up and his life has meaning. Fanning is a precocious ballet dancing beauty whose face lights up when she sees her father – even though he’s obviously adrift.

There isn’t much of a plot beyond that. Dorff and Fanning drift along together though scenes of sunbathing at the hotel’s pool, playing the video game Rock Band, attending an Italian awards ceremony, and, well, just killing time.
As many of these scenes are without dialogue and have no tension, it’s easy to get lost in, and maybe be lured to sleep by, the spacey imagery.

Dorff plays a familiar yet uncompelling character - a bad boy actor slowly going to seed. At one point he has heavy makeup applied to his head for a shoot and he sits there motionless as the camera slowly pulls closer.

He has little reaction to seeing the finished old man makeup in the mirror in the next shot. It’s just another weird day as an actor in Hollywood.

I had little reaction myself to this movie. I got that Dorff is going through the motions, and that the film is an existential exercise, but unlike Coppolla’s LOST IN TRANSLATION which dealt with a similar situation (i.e. a movie star’s meaningless lifestyle) there’s barely anything to latch onto.

SOMEWHERE doesn’t go anywhere, and, but I know that’s probably the point.
Coppola has an arresting visual sensibility and definitely great taste in music (French alt rockers Phoenix provides the score with tracks by Bryan Ferry, T-Rex, The Strokes, and the Foo Fighters filling out the soundtrack), but the overall empty ambience just sits there.

What there is to take away from this airy tale of a celebrity and his offspring hanging out I really can’t figure. That it’s a very pretty yet unbearably dull experience is all I can muster.

More later...

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