Sunday, January 9, 2011

movie musings: somewhere.

So I was initially going to title this movie review, but I realized that what I wanted to talk about wasn't so much a review as a discussion. Even that seems like I'm giving myself way to much credit. Anyways...

A brief synopsis of the new Sofia Coppola film, Somewhere, is as such: popular, though disenfranchised actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), "lives" his life at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. He continues on with his normally shallow life until his ex-wife requires that he take his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) for a couple weeks before she goes to camp.

And that, apart from a brief (but humorous) trip to Italy, is basically all that happens during the film. Which I have mixed feelings about. I went to the movie with two friends, one of them didn't like it, one did more than she thought she would. The greatest criticism between the three of us was that nothing really actually happened during the movie. Which isn't to say that it was boring. Just different.

So much of this film had to do with the internal dialogue between the characters and themselves that I really don't feel like it needed a lot of action. And so many of Coppola's shots lingered on a specifically important scene that really let you soak in the moment.

And of course, since this is a Sofia Coppola film, the aesthetics were spot on. Everything took on almost a dream-like quality of old movies. And I guess that's one of the things I loved about the movie. There was that juxtaposition of the hazy visual quality and the crystal-clear emotional portrayals.

As for the actors, they were amazing. Stephen Dorff really impressed me. I don't remember seeing him in anything else but I know of his reputation (not that great). But after I watched a short interview with him about his relationship with Elle Fanning and watching Somewhere I really hope that he can continue on this path of good characters. The role of Johnny Marco seemed written for him as he seamlessly injected himself into the character.

And Elle Fanning totally blew me away. She's, what eleven?, and she was so natural on screen. Happy when she needed to be, but was expressive even without speaking a word. Just a really cool kid. Exactly what you would expect a kid to be in a Sofia Coppola movie. And her wardrobe was fantastic.

When thinking about Sofia Coppola movies I wouldn't say this is my favorite. It reminds me more of Lost in Translation than The Virgin Suicides or Marie Antoinette (which I liked by the way). But that is not a bad thing. In the end I think it's all about personal preference. For me, the atmosphere and soundtrack (thank the lord for The Strokes' demo version "I'll Try Anything Once") worked. (And I also totally appreciated the cameos of Erin Wasson, Robert Schwartzmen and others.) For others, it may not have. I recommend seeing it and deciding for yourself.

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