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A 30something year old actor spends his days (and nights) driving his
Ferrari as fast as it can go, getting private shows from women,getting
massages and participating in events which are part of his career. When
at a press conference a journalist asks him "Who's Johnny Marko" he is
unable to respond. Johnny is someone (or is he?) but he doesn't really
know who. The relationships he has with people are far from personal.
From what we see at the beginning of the movie we would probably think Johnny is the usual single good looking but empty inside actor and that he pretty much has been all his life. But when his daughter shows up the picture is different: a failed marriage behind him... could this have made him what he is? maybe. As he welcomes Cleo back in his life she somehow seems to fill the emptiness of the environment around him. Nothing particularly overwhelming, just the little things that make the difference.
Does this movie display emotion in an explicit and clearly visible way? No. The dialog between characters is not what makes the difference. It's the feelings that make us think we're going somewhere or instead that we are so disconnected we can't care less where we are going. The feelings you can't really put into words (as properly emphasized in "Lost in Translation").
Just like the latter, "Somewhere" shows life as it is, no astonishing happenings, not many life changing experiences and maybe this is what will make a lot of people walk out of the theater unsatisfied or bored. We usually go to the cinema to evade from reality, see relationships develop clearly as they drastically change the lives of those involved in them. But this is not the case: just like in our lives things slowly develop and maybe over time change the way we see the world or feel the world. Maybe as the film suggests at one point, we need to slow down and take a look at where we are going instead of just passing through.
"Somewhere" is a particular movie from a particular director/writer. I can't go ahead and say watch this movie, you will love it, because it isn't for everyone but this is not a good enough reason to not give it a try altogether.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A black Ferrari, on what appears to be an oval track, roars past. The
same place five times. The car is going nowhere fast. The movie goes
Eventually a bored Hollywood star has to take care of his eleven year old daughter. That's were it starts? But that's about a half hour into the film. Elle Fanning adds some life to the movie. The relationship of Stephen Dorff to his daughter in an underwater tea party is the only thing that makes him likable.
Nearly every scene is too long. Dorff sits on the sofa, drinks beer and smokes more then once. Twin pole dancers twice get too much screen time. In a swimming pool, the star floats on a raft slowly out of frame. When he is called in for a make-up mask we watch the plaster dry. Thankfully we didn't have to see the plane fly to Italy in real time.
There is some red herring, read between the lines, business with nasty text messages and paranoid behavior that never pays off. The send in the masseuse bit was funny, but who would question his sexuality, as he rarely declined the gorgeous women that continually threw themselves his way.
The film is short on dialogue and has nothing to say. Some striking visuals skillfully convey a boredom story that is way to thin to be told.
Written and Directed by Sophia Coppola, here, the apple falls far from the tree.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched the film yesterday and I was surprised by the many negative
reviews this film has received. I think most of them didn't really
catch what the film is about so I felt it would have been useful to
share my thoughts in the hope that they'll help the ones that didn't
get it to better understand this movie.
This is a movie about boredom and existential discomfort, about the subtle effects of a way of living that forces you to slowly disconnect from yourself making you every day less receptive to the richness of experiences. This is probably something most of the people feel at some point in their life and to which I surely can relate. When does it start evolving? It does as soon as you are alone with your pain and you are forced to fully embrace it. The moment in which this happens is getting every day harder to achieve because there are an increasing number of things to keep you distracted from your condition. Johnny Marco have virtually limitless resources to avoid this confrontation, and this is his biggest misfortune. The ability to get whatever he think he needs prevents him from realizing he is slowly becoming numb to life. His final breakdown is not the usual unrealistic breakdown we are used to see in most movies today, but it's a believable manifestation of the feeling of a man that just realized something is wrong but that lacks of the self understanding needed to get what it really is. The father-daughter relationship here is just the match that ignites the small fire needed to unwittingly regain enough sensitivity to finally perceive the top of the emotional iceberg that's hiding underneath. The relationship with his daughter doesn't change him drastically, they don't unrealistically find the perfect way of communicating but they do menage to find a very basic one to the best of their abilities, and it is enough for Johnny to feel the difference when his daughter is gone and he is back to his previous life. When in the end, in the middle of his breakdown, he says on the phone "I'm not even a person" he is right, because what defines a person is his/her ability to experience, to be fully receptive to the whole spectrum of emotions.
I've read a lot of reviews saying this film is slow and boring but I think they are missing that it is supposed to be. It is not only boring, it is uncomfortably boring, you need to beg the director to cut to the next scene to understand the level of Johnny's self disconnection, you can't stand watching 60 seconds of him waiting for his mask to dry, how does he menage to bear that for 45 minutes with his face completely covered in some sticky substance breathing only through two small holes?
In the end I agree this is really not a film for everyone, but I do think that it is about something that everyone can relate to someway or another, and if you are able to make the connection you are surely going to find it food for thought.
lets start off with something that I did like quite a bit about this movie: it is minimalistic and very low key. if this style of film making was combined with an intriguing story, it could make for a masterpiece. however, that is not the case here.the story about an apparently very successful actor who is desperately trying to find meaning in his life while he gets to spend some time with his 11 year old daughter has no substance whatsoever: tell me something thats not so obvious and cliché, please!!! portraying a successful but dull life is not really an excuse for a dull movie, not even for someone with the name Coppola. In a time where awards are piling up in every corner of the filmmaking industry lets just rely on common sense: "Coppola continues to surprise and amaze with her singular view of the world" is but one of the praises I found. I am sorry, but if we are talking about the same movie, the words "surprise", "amaze" and "singular view" are wrong by definition.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Stephen Dorff plays Johnny Marco. His life is boring. He is the target
of beautiful women, the epicenter of LA parties. He tools around in his
Ferrari, the cad-about-town who sleeps with lovely strangers. At one
point his boredom is so complete that he falls asleep with his face
between the thighs of a beautiful woman, before she is able to have an
orgasm,unable to gorge himself on more sex. He is a much-in-demand
movie star. He goes first class, but wears casual clothes. There is no
appetite he cannot quench immediately. He is jaded by his own sated
This is a bad script. There is no tension, no stress, nothing to overcome. The characters are flat. They are spoiled people who live their excessive lives without joy or enthusiasm. They are not bad people. They do not do bad things. They are not particularly interesting people, except that they walk through rich lives without friction or much interest. So we lose interest in them fairly soon.
"Lost in Translation" shared some similarities with this story. It was an insular world, known to only a privileged few (life in a 5-star Japanese hotel) and the players had little to do other than live well in their fish bowl. "Somewhere" is the insular world of the movie star in a fishbowl of fame with immediate access to the world's pleasures. Movie stars wait for someone to take them somewhere to be interviewed or to speak a few lines. Apparently, no one tells Johnny Marco, what his movies are about so he isn't prepared for the little he is expected to do. Similarly, Bill Murray waited for days to be taken somewhere to do his commercials. He stumbled through his lines. The language barrier was a source of some humor.
Unlike "Somewhere," "Lost in Translation" had a plot line which kept you guessing. Would Bill Murray's character take advantage of the bored young wife, played by Scarlett Johansson? The male leads in both films have long spaces between activities and their next words. They lead lives of self-gratification. But empty lives - cavernous emptiness, without soul or joy or hope. Pleasure-seeking without purpose.
Johnny Marco's relationships are elsewhere. An ex-wife who calls to drop off his daughter, people want to arrange something for him and people who don't matter want to hang out. Johnny is sleepwalking through life. He isn't sad or unhappy, just unaware.
The film comes to life, a little, when his daughter shows up. One must wonder if Cleo Marco, played by Elle Fanning, isn't the autobiographical proxy for Ms. Coppola. Cleo wants more time with her father, who is preoccupied with his movies. Perhaps, Ms. Coppola spent long hours when she was eleven, waiting for Francis Ford Coppola to return from his movie sets. Johnny plays with his daughter, and she likes it, but she is afraid of being left behind in the divorce. These scenes are as close to a plot as the movie gets. They are nice scenes, but they are long, music-filled and much in need of editing. They are almost too romantic for a father-daughter relationship. We have seen these scenes in romance stories, and they are generally post-coital.
This film feels like a remake of "Lost in Translation" without the minimal plot in the former movie.
Somewhere isn't going anywhere. It is Johnny did this, then that, then this other thing, the end. At no time, is there a question, a moment of tension or apprehension, a suspenseful scene, a moment of conflict or a resolution to a problem. He's rich; he gets everything he wants. No problem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie puts you definitely to sleep. It's like a collection of short home videos without a plot, without a real beginning and ending. You cannot possibly write spoilers, because there are no turning points, nothing really happens. The characters don't evolve, don't change in any way. It seems at the end that something has switched inside the main character, but it is so obvious and trivial that it comes at no surprise. Maybe you should watch the movie in reverse to appreciate something more, to get it more interesting. But it is definitely NOT interesting. You don't give a damn about the people involved, about their problems and ordeals. Maybe it's because of the acting, so cold and distant. There is almost no script, it's like a documentary about episodes in the life of a dumb Hollywood actor, and pretty girls wanting to f**k him everywhere, random encounters with other undefined life forms. His relationships with the world, even with his wife and daughter are sketched and stereotyped. I think Coppola tried to make an art film a la Truffaut, but ended up with a disconnected bunch of scenes to be edited in some way in order to fill the time required for a motion picture release. I don't understand how such a talented director could end up with such a wreck. I hope she will recover soon and regain some strength.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, I am considerably shocked that anybody found this big yawn some
kind of brilliant statement. It made most minimalist European art films
look like exhilarating action flicks. Not that I'm a fan of action
flicks. I am a fan of well written scripts, usually character driven.
This character, well there is no there there. Which I guess is the
filmmaker's point. But in making a movie about how empty and
superficial Hollywood is, Sofia, a product of said Hollywood, proved
her point by making an empty superficial film.
The only compelling bit was when the daughter signaled her emotions without much help, it appears, from the script, and this was a few fleeting moments.
Now I guess this is a spoiler. But since not much really happened, I am not sure. I knew I was in trouble when the car went around the track half a dozen times at the intro, when 2 or 3 would suffice. Then I was treated to a pole dance that lasted a few minutes too long, the daughter dancing about 4 minutes when 2 would suffice, an eternity watching the actor sit in a plaster cast (I know, it was MEANINGFUL-he was suffocating), etc etc etc.
Obviously Sofia is of the school that painfully long sequences of nothing much happening is broadcasting to us that something IS happening. But I'm an old fashioned girl. I like actual drama.
I am a big fan of underrated actor Stephen Dorff. I don't know what
happen to him but his career is kind of dead. So, this movie
"Somewhere" gets me interested the fact that he is the star of it. This
movie also stars Elle Fanning, the younger sister of former child
actress Dakota Fanning.
Some people might not like the direction given by Sofia Coppola. The movie is slow pace, too quite, there are scenes with long cuts, and sometimes there is nothing going on for 1 minute or more. This approach could be boring to some people but for me it is very effective in conveying the despair, loneliness and boredom of Hollywood actor Johnny Marco.
Stephen Dorff didn't do much dialog or doing actions in this. When he speaks, he spoke only few phrases. But, the emotion through his eyes, the tears or a simple smile kills it. Elle Fanning is remarkable as well.
The movie runs maybe slow but if you are patient enough, the emotional impact that struck on you throughout the film is worth it.
...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
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?
'Somewhere' anatomizes the mindset of a man who has everything - except
purpose. Johnny Marco is a thriving Hollywood actor but his soul is
adrift on the sea of ennui which afflicts those to whom life denies
nothing he lacks meaningful relationships and doesn't know what to do
with himself between projects.
In classic European art-house style Coppola evokes Marco's inner desolation through the extensive use of eccentrically framed, lingering, static, wide shots in which the focus of attention listlessly enters and leaves frame. And she does this relentlessly throughout the movie to the point that, like Marco, you just want to give up. Yes the guy is a bit defocused, a bit haunted and generally of a bit of a mid life plateau and yes these attributes are successfully evoked by the directorial style, but the result is so anodyne that you just want to watch a film about a guy with some real reasons to be miserable.
Naturally you're hoping he'll rediscover his mojo through his relationship with his daughter and work out what to do with his life but given the film's obvious anti-Hollywood credentials, you feel your optimism for any kind of resolution seeping away just like Johnny Marco's.
I imagine that if you are the daughter of a like-able, pampered but lost Marco figure, drowning in existential anxiety, then this character study is pretty poignant but it's really no more than a letter from Coppola to her father and, of course, a gift to the type of film-goer for whom every aspect of the human condition, including boredom - is interesting.
Sometimes less is more; sometimes it's just less.
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