Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere opens in the Twin Cities months after a Quentin Tarantino-headed jury voted it the best film at the Venice Film Festival and just a week or two after Tarantino failed to include the movie in his year-end list of the best films of 2010.
Now on her fourth feature-length depiction of melancholic, varyingly pampered ennui, Coppola’s latest film has been met with more hostility than her Chuck Taylor-ed Marie Antoinette and her Suntory swilling Lost in Translation, but the nature of the attacks remains the same: “Poor little rich girl.”
Coppola’s status as Hollywood royalty is taken as a given whenever examining her increasingly less rarified status as a world-class female film director. Everything she directs is processed as some sort of cinematic extrapolation of the fact that she’s an ostensibly well-financed daughter of Godfather godfather Francis Ford Coppola. Does she, in fact, have anything to offer other than her own lack of experience with anything that doesn’t involve privilege?
I’d love to spend paragraphs unpacking these complaints for their barely concealed sexism. (How many male directors have made movies about making movies and been so roundly castigated?) Unfortunately, Somewhere is every shallow thing Coppola’s critics have accused her of purveying.
Stephen Dorff stars as Johnny Marco, a sullen matinee idol gracelessly moving past his prime, engaging in lackadaisical affairs with his co-stars almost by rote, falling asleep when stripper twins tediously twirl around their tension poles, and totally ignoring his tween daughter Cleo.
When his ex passive-aggressively forces Johnny to care for Cleo while he trots the globe to promote his new movie, she’s whisked from her world of ice skating routines to Gwen Stefani songs and into the yawny splendor of European hotel lobbies.
Though Cleo warms to both Johnny’s lifestyle and his entourage, she worries she’ll be abandoned yet again by the man who hides topless blondes like a dieter hoards snack cakes.
Coppola’s only trick here is to stretch the best, most languorous moments from Lost in Translation (i.e. the karaoke interlude) into an entire movie. The effect is stultifying in its self-involvement.
Eric Henderson is a web producer and film blogger for WCCO.COM.