Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Principal cast: Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning
Release date: 10th December 2010 (still on general release).
Hollywood actor Johnny Marco (Dorff) resides between filming blockbusters at the Chateau Marmont (Los Angeles) living an endless cycle of partying and womanising. During this blurred existence a creeping sense of wastefulness is accelerated by the arrival of 11 year old Cleo (Fanning).
As Johnny starts to bond with the daughter he hardly knows he begins to ponder his own purpose and relationship to his child.
Coppola returns to the smaller more character based intimacy of Lost in Translation (2003) with a film examining the trappings of stardom and forging of friendships.
Like that film, Somewhere virtually eschews all narrative and back story to concentrate solely on character study and the present (which may not suit everyone).
The opening segment may test some with a lack of dialogue as we are introduced to Marco through a montage of driving, partying and personal pole dancers (a clever and unforgettable scene as two playboy beauties dance to the sound of the Foo Fighters whilst Marco gradually falls into a lumbering sleep).
The slow pace and constant distant buzz of L.A. traffic combined with glimpses of billboard advertising successfully emphasise Macro's gradual boredom and detachment from real life and Coppola cleverly changes mood with the introduction of Cleo.
Here we are back in Lost in Translation territory as Marco gradually discovers the daughter he only briefly knows and the film plays on the interaction between the two as they gradually build a sense of camaraderie as Cleo accompanies her father to Italy (movie premieres, etc).
Coppola is a deft hand in capturing subtle moments and the gradual bonding between the two is aptly captured with Fanning giving an assured performance as a character abandoned/neglected by both parents (her ultimate breakdown and insecurity over her Mother's disappearance maybe the film's stand out moment) whilst Dorff provides a very introspective performance as a hellraiser caught in his own limbo of midnight hotel lobbies and parties.
Likewise we reach the ultimate redemptive moment where Macro comes to the realisation that something has to change in his life and thus provides the film's finale with a scene that maybe less cryptic than Lost in Translation but packs more of a punch.
Although it is hard to feel any sympathy for such a character, Dorff gradually wins us over with Marco's realisation of a life potentially wasted and his eventual commitment to his daughter provides a more interesting and ultimately satisfying dynamic than it's aforementioned predecessor. Recommended.