Somewhere is Sofia Coppola’s follow-up to Marie Antoinette and the acclaimed Lost In Translation and she manages to make a film even calmer and more relaxed of pace than Bill Murray’s time in Tokyo. A casual observer will waste no time in saying that nothing much happens but what the movie does convey, it does by osmosis. Nothing is heavy-handed and everything you take in is seemingly at your own pace.
The film centres around the very centre of Hollywood culture itself, the infamous Chateau Marmont hotel in LA where the excesses of the movie stars and their entourages are indulged (John Belushi overdosed there). The film centres around the current life of Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), whose living and partying at the hotel while doing promotion for his new movie. His life is constant drinking (often alone), womanising (albeit without too much effort) and calls from his agent telling him what he’s to do. His daughter of 11, who he sees sporadically, shows up one afternoon and her mom rings him to say that she’s going away and he’ll have to look after Cleo for an indeterminable amount of time and YES IT SEEMS like some schtick you’ve had run by your eyes a thousand times before but bear with us.
What is warm and so enjoyable about Somewhere is firstly in the pacing. It’s not that everything happens slowly but much more time is given to moments that your average editing would have left on the floor. As the story progresses you just soak up the feeling of existing in a void that the character of Johnny is experiencing, rather than being told how he’s feeling. Dialogue isn’t abundant and there are no instant moments of clarity or drama. Instead there are moments that Coppola dwells on such as when a very sweet Sammy (Chris Pontus) discusses with Cleo how all dance teachers are alcoholics. These scenes are drawn-out but not boring and seem to reflect true human interaction more honestly because of it.
Also refreshing is the non-judgemental or clichéd characters – celebrity here is not what’s being looked at, it’s just a subtle backdrop. There’s hedonism and peace found in the hotel and all this is transferred in extended moments as Johnny muddles through actually being a dad for the first time (it’s actually hard to mention the plot without scaring people away).
The minimal score was put together by Phoenix with a collection of other songs throughout and there’s also a beautiful moment where Julian Casablancas’ ‘I’ll Try Anything Once’ accompanies a game of table tennis.
Perfectly underplayed acting (Fanning is so good) and a slow observation on a simple life situation by Coppola makes Somewhere brave and warm without ever (almost) being sickly. Now if she had just trimmed the last 30 seconds out…