Sofia Coppola once more explores the alienating and empty life of celebrity through Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), an emotionally detached Hollywood heartthrob. The only burst of radiant sunlight in his literally overcast world comes from spending time with his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning).
After the extravagant visual beauty of Marie Antoinette, Coppola has gone in the opposite direction to make Somewhere an incredibly lo-fi and minimal piece that evokes the independent spirit of New Hollywood and early 1990s America indi films. However, the ‘indi film’ aesthetic to Somewhere at times feels disappointingly more calculated than sincere. The stretch of film set during a press junket in Italy retreads over a lot of the same ground as Lost in Translation did and the symbolic act at the end of the film borders on being trite.
There’s still a lot to admire about Somewhere and the bond between Johnny and Cleo is incredibly sweet and no doubt used by Coppola in part to reflect on her own childhood relationship with her famous filmmaker father. This is Coppola’s least fulfilling film but key moments nevertheless linger in the mind long after the credits.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 369, 2010