FNE at Venice IFF 2010: Somewhere


    VENICE: Sofia Coppola's family drama is one of those films where seemingly nothing much happens but at the same time it captures a piece of life that we all recognize. Movie star Johnny Marco is comfortable, drifting and uses both woman and drugs as casual entertainment. His life in Los Angeles is going nowhere but at least he is going there in a Ferrari.

    When his daughter, Cleo, from his failed marriage arrives to stay with him his life suddenly changes. The film chronicles this relationship with irony and gentle satire. One of the film's best points is that at this point most Hollywood films would bludgeon us with a trite and tear jerking father-daughter relations but Coppola shows her directing skills by keeping the relationship light and easy.

    After Coppola's postmodern historical drama Marie Antoinette this is a return to the themes of her Lost in Translation although with less successful results. Coppola's Los Angeles is a place of moral and intellectual emptiness and the understated approach in which she tackles her subject makes it hard for the audience to get involved in the characters or their seeming self-inflicted problems. When the topics are aimlessness and vacuity it is hard to avoid the film looking a bit the same.

    There is gentle comedy and Stephen Dorff's movie star Johnny is as understated as the film itself. His world is all superficiality moving from hotel lobbies to swimming pools to other luxury interiors without ever quite connecting to anything. His relationship with his daughter brings a subtle redemption to this aimlessness but still fails to enlist the sympathy of the audience. But the stellar performance comes from Elle Fanning as the daughter who come across as a real preteen not the usual Hollywood smirking portrayal of one.

    Coppola knows this side of Los Angeles life obviously and the world she conjures up rings true and is closely observed. This is a risky film as she avoids clichés and easy laughs. As a venture into postmodern filmmaking it is it succeeds but the film packs less punch than Lost in Translation.

    Somewhere directed by Sofia Coppola
    Cast: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Benicio Del Toro, Michelle Monaghan, Laura Chiatti, Simona Ventura