Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.
Hollywood actor Johnny Marco, nested in his luxury hotel of choice, is a stimulated man. Drinking, parties and women keep a creeping boredom under wraps in between jobs. He is the occasional father of a bright girl, Cleo, who may be spoiled but doesn't act it. When Cleo's mother drops her off and leaves town, Johnny brings her along for the ride, but can he fit an 11-year-old girl into his privileged lifestyle? Written by
Peter Brandt Nielsen
A number of the dialogs were improvised by the actors, notably the things said by Sammy (Chris Pontius) to Cleo (Elle Fanning). This was done in order to provoke genuine surprise from Fanning. Pontius, in fact, was specifically chosen for his improvisation skills, as well as his good rapport with children. See more »
Cleo toggles between having and not having braces from scene to scene. This is most noticeable in scenes in the living room with Sammy and scenes in Johnny's car. See more »
Everything that worked out beautifully in "Lost In Translation"...
...makes "Somewhere" an utterly forgettable, self-indulgent (in the worst sense of the term) waste of celluloid. I gotta say, first of all, I have immense respect and admiration for Sofia Coppola. The girl who showed the world she couldn't act in "The Godfather III" had a decade to find herself and prove everybody she was a sensitive, talented writer-director with 1999's "The Virgin Suicides". "Lost In Translation" (2003), which gave her the Oscar for best original screenplay (and a nomination for best director - the third female and first American woman to ever be nominated in that category), is my #3 favourite film of all time. I can watch it over and over and every frame of it can make me appreciate the beauty of life, film, human connections, and music, more. Sounds corny, doesn't it? Well, but it's true.
Sofia's follow-up to LiT, 2006's ostracized "Marie Antoinette", was, yes, sort of shallow, but I have to admit that eye candy and great music alone make it a delicious piece of cake for me. The same can't be said about her latest, "Somewhere", which won the Golden Lion for Best Film at Venice 2010 (a blasphemy, specially considering titles like "Black Swan" and "Balada Triste" were in competition). It follows a bored, kind of good-looking, shallow and womanizing movie star, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) who (surprise) goes through an emotional transformation after spending some time with his 11 year-old daughter (product of a failed marriage), Cleo (Elle Fanning, a more natural actress than her older sister Dakota). We already knew that Sofia is fascinated by the ennui of the rich; but what made Bob Harris and Charlotte such wonderful characters in "Lost In Translation" was their humanity (and the chemistry between their fine performers, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson). Johnny Marco is not 1/5 as interesting as those two. Not every main character needs to be likable for a film to work for me, at all - I love character studies, no matter how conflicted ("The Piano Teacher") or pleasant ("Happy-Go-Lucky") the protagonist might be.
However, Marco is not someone interesting enough to spend 97 minutes with, and although Cleo seems to be a nice enough girl, she can't carry a whole film on her shoulders. They don't even share the historical curiosity of a figure like Marie Antoinette and her colorful ways. Marco is just shallow. Filthy rich. Bored. And boring. It's hard to feel bad for him, or even compelled to follow what he might become (the open ending, in that sense, is not a quality, since the movie ends when it could possibly become somewhat interesting). The soundtrack was nice enough (not memorable like those of her previous work), the cinematography is pretty enough (by Harris Savides, and not Lance Acord, this time around), but this is no 'Lost in Translation Redux', or even a film I would want to see again. It's a shame, but I am still curious to see what you do next, Sofia. I know you have it in you to amaze us! Verdict: 3/10.
P.S.: Quentin Tarantino, Sofia's ex-boyfriend who awarded "Somewhere" the Golden Lion as president of the jury at Venice last September, later wouldn't even name it one of his top 20 movies of the year (yet, he lists abominations such as "Jackass 3D", "Knight and Day"...). That can prove one of two things: 2010 was a less than great year for movies, or he finally realized the mistake he made. Well, perhaps both?
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