SOMEWHERE (Sofia Coppola, 2010)
As much as we adore Sofia Coppola's LOST IN TRANSLATION, at some point we have to move on. Coppola's fourth baby, SOMEWHERE sticks close with her most widely-regarded film in aspects of tone and subject matter and execution, and one would expect a showcase of grander emotions given that SOMEWHERE is a father-daughter relationship story. However, Coppola once again proves she is a filmmaker capable of making us patiently observe the minutest detail of her visual frame, even when nothing seems to be going on, and in Coppola's lens, something is always going on.
Movie star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is holed up in a hotel while recovering from an arm injury obtained while performing a stunt at one of his movies. The unexpected arrival of his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) brings unknown levels of ambivalence to Johnny, and no amount of alcohol, or pole-dancing strippers, or late night booty calls can fix what's missing in Johnny's life. At a later point in the movie, he admits "I am nothing", which begs our curiosity as to why.
The film takes us on a seemingly whirlwind ride of a celebrity's day-to-day, from presscons and photo shoots to out of the country junkets, all the while with the POV shifting from Johnny to Cleo and back again, hence we get to see and feel what it's like to be one and the other.
Cleo is in her formative years, and SOMEWHERE shows us how she is nuts about her father, and it is a ravaging and bittersweet experience to see a growing child bear the disappointment to both her parents, and yet still root for her freewheeling excuse for a father. But in all fairness, Johnny's character isn't the typecast sleazebag of a father who substitutes money for paternal duties. Sure, he likes to party, but he still shows how he will never let her daughter get hurt.
A film that begs our constant attention and possibly, repeated viewings, SOMEWHERE treads the line between indifference and heartbreak, and it is this quality that Coppola truly achieves her greatest, the way that we can be unfeeling in the beginning and be involved at the end, all the while utilizing minimum dialogue and emotion. But who dictates the intensity and impact of onscreen emotion? Is an afternoon soap opera with lots of screaming more powerful than a still shot of a little girl quietly bursting into tears? I think not. SOMEWHERE may not be as great as LOST IN TRANSLATION, but then again it'd be like comparing Spielberg to Scorsese.