Film review – Somewhere (2010)

27 December 2010
Somewhere: Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) and Cleo (Elle Fanning)

Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) and Cleo (Elle Fanning)

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

© Thomas Caldwell, 2010

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Film review – Marie Antoinette (2006)

19 December 2006

Marie Antoinette is a period film with an indi/teen film sensibility. Having already proven herself on The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation as a director with talent to burn, Sofia Coppola has possibly set herself her biggest challenge yet. Marie Antoinette tells the story of France’s controversial last queen not as a weighty historical drama about the French Revolution, but as the story of a teenage girl with strong modern sensibilities. Audiences expecting scenes of suffering peasants, enraged revolutionaries and climatic beheadings are going to be sorely disappointed.

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