Sunday, May 8, 2011

DVD - Somewhere

or: Living the Hollywood life

One word to sum it up: Lingering

Somewhere opens with a flash car going round and round a track. It probably does around six or seven laps, leading the audience to wonder what they're in for. Could the movie just be a series of pointless long shots of stuff that really doesn't lend much to the story? Or could we be witnessing the life of an actor going around in a circle? That opening scene, though seeming as pointless as anything at first, is actually a symbol for so much more to come. It shows that our protagonist, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), is all dressed up with nowhere to go. He can't go backwards, because he has his reputation as an actor to uphold. He can't go forwards, because he doesn't have the willpower to. So he just goes around in circles, something which he is quite comfortable in doing.

We don't ever find out much about Marco. We know that he spends his time in the Chateau Marmont either drinking, sleeping, or hiring twin pole-dancers to entertain him. We know that he broke his arm. We eventually find out that he's an actor, and his co-star Rebecca (Michelle Monaghan) thinks he's a bit of a dick. And then we find out that even after we learn of his unlikeable traits, Marco is a father to an eleven year old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning). He has partial custody over her, and enjoys some visits from her, until she turns up outside his door looking for a place to stay while her mother goes away for an extended period of time. So Marco and Cleo share a time together that they probably haven't had the chance to share together before, which, in turn, causes our Marco to re-evaluate his life.

The phrase "Somewhere goes nowhere" is one which is often used to describe this movie. To a point, that is true. The film isn't anything new, the ending is a bit confusing and there isn't a lot going on in the movie. Not to mention the fact that Sofia Coppola isn't one to use quick editing, opting instead for long shots that linger...and linger...and linger. However, despite the fact that most people have been quick to shoot down this movie since it is slightly long, empty and well, boring, I absolutely loved Somewhere. I don't know what it was about this film. I could see the flaws in this film happening right before my eyes, I could understand why people hated it so much, I had a little ticker tape running through my brain of all the bad things I'd heard about this movie. But yet, this movie completely took me. I felt like a backseat passenger in an actors life. Sofia Coppola, certainly no stranger to the world of Hollywood herself, managed to involve me in a world which seemed entirely realistic as opposed to the 'star life' that I read about in the tabloid magazines. She's someone who really knows what she's talking about. You'd think that this film would be really dramatic, but Coppola blends a mix of drama, pure heartbreak and a great deal of humour, making it even easier to watch.

Coppola has made a very observational film, as if you were a spectator to this chain of events. She not only observes the life of a movie star, but she observes the effect that it has on Cleo, who isn't alienated by it at all. She seems to resent it, in a way, but she doesn't treat her father any differently. Cleo is essentially taking care of Marco, and in the end, becomes the one to change Marco so he can take care for himself. It's a beautiful relationship they have set up, which no doubt has a lot to do with the chemistry between Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. I am not familiar with Dorff at all, and aside from the fact that I swear he could have been Guy Pearce at some points, I really liked his performance. He just knew how to be a movie star, and he knew how to 'be nothing'. The scene towards the end when he admits to himself that he is 'nothing' was a beautiful moment, because he was actually right, even though he was a film star. Elle Fanning, the younger sister of Dakota, was the star of the show here. She just lit up the room, even if you couldn't tell whether she was really yearning for a good relationship with her father or not. It just shows how many young people stole the show this year: Fanning, Hailee Steinfeld, Chloe Moretz...while Fanning may have been the least recognized of the lot, she sure did a fantastic job.

THE VERDICT: Somewhere is slow, but it is hypnotic and engaging. The way Sofia Coppola draws you in to observing the life of Johnny Marco is brilliant.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. The thing I love about Sofia Coppola films is how everyone just looks so beautiful in it...and Somewhere was no exception. The ice-skating scene, the swimming pool tea-party were just gorgeous to look at. While I think it's the "worst" of her works, it still is a very good film.

  2. Worth the wait for the review, that's for sure!

    I am really glad you liked the film, (otherwise there would be hell to pay on my behalf haha). But on the serious note, it kind of irks me people didn't get this film as you obviously did.

    I guess it'll just be one of those underrated gems, then.

    Good review though!

  3. Nikhat - You're right, everyone looked beautiful. Everything was gorgeous to look at in it's own special way. I've only seen Marie Antoinette, a long time ago, but I'm definitely going to catch up on her work!

    Cherokee - You got a blog! I'm so excited!
    I didn't think I'd like it at all, but it was so beautiful. Yeah, I get annoyed that most people didn't get the film, but I understand why.
    Underrated gems rock!

  4. Haha yes, I did! It was mainly to do with the apprenticeship work I am doing, (I told you about that right?) Working in the film production company for a 10 month stint...Anyway, me and a few others have to go to college on Friday to pass this course for the apprenticeship, and we had to create our own blogs for it, (shudders at the business like professionalism of them), so I mentioned could we make our own blogs to coincide with our 'college blogs', so I could actually have something out there that was a little more personal and not totally cold, so that's how it started.

    Thank you for the watch, man! Didn't expect that hahha. Considering I haven't even posted anything yet, you are obviously expecting great things! It'll be about at least a week or so until I post something, but then it'll come in floods, as I am organising posts for other sites to put on there as well. But thank you!!

    I think with Somewhere and a lot of other films like Solaris, there is a certain amount of slowness that some can take. I can take MEGASLOW films, but I guess, a lot of people can't, which I totally get. Underrated gems do rock, that's for sure!

    Have you seen The Virgin Suicides by any chance? (Sorta random question)

  5. You told me about the apprenticeship. Wow, that sounds all very exciting! I can't wait until you start posting and stuff. I'm sure it will be fantastic! The design is looking awesome already!

    I'm not usually so great with slow movies. But just before I watched this, I had a mega crying session (I don't even know why), so I wasn't in the mood to be challenged by a movie. It was going at just the right pace, so I really enjoyed it.

    No, I haven't seen The Virgin Suicides. I'm going to soon, as it's on my Fatso queue.

  6. Somewhere is still, as far as 2010 releases are concerned, my favorite film of that year.

    It's a very minimalist, European film where the opening and ending were metaphoric. At the same time, I realize that Sofia is becoming more confident as a director and just let things happen. I'll definitely await for what she does next.

  7. It is definitely one of my favourites from last year.
    I loved how metaphoric it was, and Sofia created something really beautiful here.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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