dir-scr Sofia Coppola
prd G Mac Brown, Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola
with Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Michelle Monaghan, Alexandra Williams, Alden Ehrenreich, Brian Gattas, Paul Greene, Julia Melim, Karissa Shannon, Kristina Shannon, Benicio Del Toro
release UK 10.Dec.10, US 22.Dec.10
10/US Focus 1h38
Some father-daughter time: Dorff and Fanning

dorrf fanning pontius
london film fest
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Somewhere With a premise that's extremely similar to Lost in Translation, Coppola again takes an atmospheric look at celebrity that's heavier on internal mood than actual plot. But this film's more intriguing than engaging.

Johnny Marco (Dorff) is a top movie star who lives in Hollywood's secluded Chateau Marmont. He's promoting his action movie, Berlin Agenda, with his costar (Monaghan) while preparing for his next project. And he's also taking care of his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Fanning). Their life consists mainly of sitting around, travelling to Italy for a junket and then to Las Vegas for Cleo's summer camp. All of which gives Johnny a chance to seduce various women and ponder his own existence.

Everyone's reaction indicates that Johnny is a famous bad-boy actor. And we know immediately that he's bored with this when he falls asleep while twin pole-dancers perform a hilarious routine in his room. It's refreshing that Johnny's not an overwritten caricature, he's also rather sketchy. Dorff does what he can with the role, but he's neither charismatic nor sympathetic, and the only thing we like about him is his relationship with his daughter.

This lack of identity leaves the film feeling somewhat cold, despite strong acting from Fanning and some lively one-scene roles along the way. Together, Dorff and Fanning find strong father-daughter chemistry that gives the film some badly needed warmth. And the script is full of intriguing mysteries, such as the abusive text messages Johnny receives from a blocked phone number. But none of this quite resonates into something meaningful, and we're left to work out for ourselves what Coppola may be trying to say.

The film looks terrific, as Coppola directs scenes with her usual unhurried artistry. Harris Savides' cinematography looks as gorgeous as always, and the way he captures the eerie limbo of the jet-set lifestyle is cleverly offhanded. There are some telling, funny and emotional scenes along the way, and the film really captures the tedium of the celebrity life, in which your time is not your own. But it's hard to feel that Johnny's emptiness has to do with anything beyond his own personality. He was probably like this before he became famous.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 27.Oct.10 lff

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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall