out of Five
Running time: 98
Impressively directed and sharply observed, this is an enjoyable and engaging drama that features a superb soundtrack and terrific performances from Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, Somewhere stars Stephen Dorff as successful but bored Hollywood actor Johnny Marco, who injures his arm in a drunken fall and holes up in a suite at L.A.'s Chateau Marmont in order to recover. He spends most of his time drinking, smoking and hiring a pair of perky twin pole dancers (own poles supplied), until the arrival of his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), who ends up accompanying him on a trip to Rome to promote his new movie after Johnny's ex-wife unexpectedly dumps her in his care.
Dorff delivers one of his best screen performances to date, managing to keep Johnny likeable, even though we know he's capable of bad behaviour, particularly in regard to women (he keeps receiving abusive text messages from someone and at least one woman confronts him over a past encounter). Elle Fanning is equally good as Cleo, in a remarkably unselfconscious turn that's refreshingly different from the way Hollywood usually treats estranged father-daughter stories: her relaxed, easy chemistry with both Dorff and Chris Pontius (as Johnny's best friend Sammy) is extremely charming.
There's a definite feel of Lost In Translation: The Return to Somewhere, but that's not necessarily a bad thing (though it won't win over detractors of her previous films). Indeed, the most enjoyable scenes in Somewhere (an absurd and sadly realistic international press conference, hilariously ridiculous Italian TV entertainment shows) are direct echoes of similar scenes in Lost In Translation.
Harris Savides' cinematography is gorgeous throughout and Coppola orchestrates some terrific sequences, several of which are strangely beautiful, e.g. Cleo's ice-skating routine (oddly juxtaposed with the pole dancing scene) or a lovely moment where a tired Johnny and Cleo are sung to by a musician at the hotel.
There's also a lot of subtle humour in the film, whether it's the absurd perkiness of the pole dance routines, Sammy's good natured teasing of Cleo, Johnny's bemused expression as he's suddenly surrounded by sexy Italian dancers or a surreal sequence where Coppola leaves the camera on his motionless, plaster-encased head for over a minute.
Somewhere is a well made, beautifully shot and superbly acted drama that will delight fans of Coppola's previous films, even if it won't win her any new converts. Highly recommended.