CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2010

Somewhere

Somewhere

Synopsis

Sofia Coppola returns to her Hollywood roots with a portrait of a pampered movie star who unexpectedly finds himself saddled with his 11-year-old daughter.

About

If you've ever suspected Sofia Coppola's films of being style over substance, artistically self-indulgent, or vacuous, it's time to load your weapon: you're unlikely to find better ammunition than Somewhere. The film opens with a shot of our tortured movie star hero (played by Stephen Dorff, who may or may not be tortured), driving aimlessly around a dusty race circuit in his flash git/tortured movie star Ferrari. It won't be spoiling much to reveal (since it doesn't take much to guess, given the film's title) that we'll be returning to this stonkingly obvious metaphor at the end of the film. But is it worth the measly, predictable payoff?

There's an argument that if Coppola cut the fat from the middle (i.e. most of the film) and ran the opening and closing scenes together Somewhere could've made for a relatively snappy short - granted, one without anything much to say for itself. And there's no problem with a film not having much to say for itself, but if you're going to say nothing much, at least say it entertainingly, yeah? That said, Somewhere - which explores the relationship between tortured movie star (tortured because he's spent years indulging in a hedonistic selfish, shallow lifestyle and is surprised to find himself feeling... oddly... empty) and estranged, tortured child of a movie star, Cleo (Elle Fanning, whose 11-year-old character is actually mostly pretty cute, smart and well-rounded, all things considered) - does have its moments.

A repeat gag in which tortured movie star Johnny sits yawning on his bed as he watches twin pole dancers enact excruciatingly corny dance routines for him is the epitome of luxurious boredom (we can even hear the pole squeaking). It also dovetails nicely with a scene in which Johnny watches Cleo ice-skating – which, at first, seems to be yet another instance of a female performing to music for him like a dancing monkey, but takes on an emotional resonance when Johnny bothers to look up from his mobile at his daughter.

On the subject of the mobile, another frustrating thread dangling from the film is the series of anonymous threatening texts Johnny receives; a narrative byway, which like much else in the film, goes nowhere rather slowly. Not that it's unrealistic for it to go nowhere; more, it just feels symptomatic of a pretty spineless script, that it's yet another element merely left hanging, and a bizarre one at that: like Haneke tried to slip in a sinister modern telecommunication allegory when Coppola nipped to the loo or something. Aiming for a tone and visual aesthetic that's as pared down as her subject matter, this is Coppola's first film in which she doesn't have an achingly cool soundtrack or bombastic production design to hide behind, and it feels disappointingly like a case of the emperor's new clothes. Still, if Coppola's intention was to transmit her protagonist's feelings of ennui and purposelessness to her audience, then hats off to her.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Elle Fanning, Laura Ramsey, Stephen Dorff, Chris Pontius, Michelle Monaghan
  • Director: Sofia Coppola
  • Screen Writer: Sofia Coppola
  • Producer: G Mac Brown, Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola
  • Photographer: Harris Savides

In a nutshell

It's hard to believe that the filmmaker responsible for such an evocative, smart debut as The Virgin Suicides could create something so dull. Maybe it's time to stop using your own biography as source material and go back to the bookshelf please, Sofia?

by Sophie Ivan

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Letter To Elia

    A Letter To Elia

    Martin Scorsese narrates and co-directs a documentary on the late filmmaker Elia Kazan

    On Film4: 20 Apr 2:50AM

  • Film4 We Went To War

    We Went To War

    Director Michael Grigsby's final film revisits the stoies of three Vietnam veterans he first explored in 1970's I Was A Soldier

  • Film4 Goon

    Goon on Film4

    Seann William Scott stars as an ice hockey enforcer alongside Alison Pill, Jay Baruchel and Liev Schreiber in a full-blooded sports comedy

  • Film4 The Inbetweeners Movie

    Rogues Gallery Season on Film4

    A season dedicated to memorable anti-heroes, mischief makers and black comedies with bad attitudes

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Four films announced for Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House 2014

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House celebrates its 10th anniversary this August with 14 nights of open-air screenings Celebrating ten years of classic, cult, and contemporary films in its open-ai

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Frank: a Twitter prequel

    Commissioning Executive Anna Higgs on creating a prequel to Lenny Abrahamson┬┐s Frank via the most natural storytelling medium possible for the character involved: Twitter The @JonBurroughs83 Twitter

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share