Coppola struggles to find direction in ‘Somewhere’

The opening shot is telling of how “Somewhere” eventually plays out. As the Focus Features logo fades away, the roar of a Ferrari can be heard as the screen fades into the car driving around a desert track. With no music and the camera fixed in one position, the car circles the track five times before it comes to a halt in the camera shot. A man gets out of the car, walks a few feet, stops and then stares off into the distance.

These long, drawn-out scenes with little to no sound make up the majority of “Somewhere,” the new film from writer/director Sofia Coppola.

The film revolves around fictional actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) and his strained relationship with his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning.)

While it is never implicitly stated, it is assumed that Johnny is a global star because of his success in previous films. However this success has driven him away from his family, evident from his first interaction with his daughter after his ex-wife drops her off.

Johnny takes Cleo to an ice rink so she can practice her figure skating routine, but afterwards is shocked to find out she has been figure skating for three years.

His relationship is also strained because of his constant sleeping around with random women. He even goes so far as to lie right to Cleo’s face about his interactions with these women.

Johnny Marco brought to mind another one of Coppola’s characters, “Lost in Translation’s” Bob Harris from played by Bill Murray. Both are successful actors but both have strained relationships with their respective families. Unlike Bob Harris, though, Johnny didn’t feel as developed and as three dimensional as the “Lost in Translation” character was.

This may be intentional because as at times it appears that Johnny is in the beginning stages of depression. When not around Cleo, he drinks constantly and seems to be disinterested in general.

The bright spot of this film was the acting of Elle Fanning as Cleo. Younger sister of actress Dakota Fanning, Elle showed great skill and range for a 12-year-old actress by displaying a wide range of emotions throughout the film. Her evil glances at Johnny during breakfast with a random hook up his  were priceless.

While some scenes throughout the film tend to linger on one thing for too long, some were shot beautifully, employing simple tracking and zoom. Coppola has always done this magnificently in her previous films and she did not fail to impress here either.

As Cleo is leaving for summer camp, it seems that Johnny will be there for his daughter more. He half-heartedly apologizes for his previous actions but it’s unsure whether Cleo hears it because of a helicopter running close by.

In the end, you’re left wanting more and felt there should have been more character development in Johnny, but where it ends felt appropriate. The film’s title is perfect because Johnny is certainly at a major point in his life, but where exactly is unsure. It’s simply somewhere.

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