Wednesday, January 5, 2011

s o m e w h e r e

I had a feeling I was going to like Somewhere (Sophia Coppola, 2010) when I read that a) critic Jim Schembri found it boring and b) it was really, really slow. I don't have time or opportunity to book in to one of those Californian Zen retreats – as much as I'd like to by January 1 – so one hundred minutes in aircon comfort in the company of a bewildered and overindulged American actor by the name of Johnny Marko (Stephen Dorff) spoke to me. It was like a long Bruce Webber photographic shoot. Coppola has such a sure touch with actors – here Dorff and the young, unaffected Elle Fanning but elsewhere Scarlett Johannsen and Bill Murray. It's important because her taste for arthouse minimalism and its formal tropes (holding shots for forever, framing actors front on) is well established. But the films investment in naturalism cut through that filmic style and offered up an affecting portrait of self inflicted malaise. Reading a few blogs I get that it's enraged a lot of viewers. My sister included. She actually went online to see if someone could fricken' tell her what the ending meant (like you might after a Michael Haneke film). Me? I was more receptive to its charms.


  1. Hi Anna,

    Im so excited - I've just worked out how to comment! A bit embarassing that its take this long...

    I also really loved this film - despite the fact that I was also somewhat bewildered by the ending! I mean where on earth was he heading off to in the middle of nowhere? It seemed like a positive ending but what actually was happening seemed unclear.

    I loved the contrast of his daughter's innocent iceskating with the cheap (though very hilarious) pole dancers. And the small but deliberate details like not subtitling the Italian awards ceremony so you experience it as if you were them, not comprehending anything.

    I was trying to work out where you are placed as a viewer when you are given so little background of the main character. Yet despite this, it rang so true of human experience, more than many films where you feel you are being persuaded to invest deep emotion in it with detailed plots but end up feeling unmoved.

    I hope Sofia Coppola continues to make more in this vein. Apart from anything it was so beautifully shot!

  2. Ha- I thought the comment might be from your sister but it was mine! I wonder if I'll like it or not....

  3. Hi Mim and Siri!

    Thanks for worki'n the technology out Mim. Awesome. Like you I really liked how so much of the film was action and performance, not conversation. And it was so pointed, wasn't it, about how only a few short years separate the pole dancers and his daughter and the shocking distance between innocence and experience travelled in those years for some girls.

    Coppola really captures the weirdness of fame, when everyone is so excited in its presence.Everyone but the famous person that is.

    I actually thought the ending was a bit of a let down - tears onwards. I don't think the film knew what to do with Johnny's new found insight. Walking into the horizon was pure art cinema symbolism, which would probably be fine for a film only in that mode but after the naturalism of the previous 100 minutes fell flat. But you know, I loved that that car. When it broke down I wondered, why did it break down? To what end was that? Afterwards I felt like I got it (it didn't work for him any more). I like that kind of writing. It's right up my Strasse.

  4. I hadn't thought about it like that but I agree with you about the ending. It was like it suddenly went up a gear in terms of plot in order to try and 'wrap it up', but that somehow didn't sit so well with the way things had unfolded so naturally up to that point. I guess our lives are a sort of continuum and thats what the rest of the film captured. We have changes and transformations but they sometimes they happen over an undefinable period of time. We already witnessed the connection between him and his daughter and the way that gave him more meaning in his life. What he chooses to do with that we almost didn't need to see, beyond some kind of indication that he did intend to make change in his life.

    Hey, one scene I forgot to mention was the press conference. That would have to one of my favourite - it had me in stitches! It was perfect - I wonder how many takes they did to get it timed so well? The weirdness of fame, as you said...

  5. The press conference is great isn't it. I love the Russian's asking about his exercise program. It almost made me feel sorry for him.