Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a famous Hollywood actor living at the Chateau Marmont. Between the routing that comes with promoting his films, getting awards and lending his face for special effects Johnny Marco is bored and on the verge of an existential crisis. His life feels empty, he’s literally spinning around in circles going nowhere. Even sex lost its taste. Everything suddenly changes when his eleven-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) comes to live with him for a brief period of time. Johnny realizes that he’s been neglecting her and that he doesn’t know her at all. Spending some quality time with her on a trip to Milan, Italy something in him is awakened and he finally seems to want to take responsibility and be a part of Cleo’s life. Ending the film on a hopeful note, Marco finally seems to be going somewhere.
Like every Sofia Coppola film this one also ends when you would want it to start. Somewhere is just a snapshot, almost a documentary of the fictional, but real-life inspired character of Johnny Marco. Sofia’s fascination with celebrity, themes of loneliness and ennui, her personal experiences with the film industry and her love for cinema all come together in this staggering triumph winner of the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice Film Festival.
Both Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning give their personal career-best performance, completely understanding, inhabiting and becoming their character. Shot with using a lot of improvisation and underscored by a fantastic soundtrack (especially Gwen Stefani’s Cool and Phoenix’s Love Like a Sunset Part II) Somewhere relies more on non-verbal elements, but is all the more satisfying and successful for it.
I’ve seen this film countless times. Revisiting the Hollywood Hills this time I found myself appreciating Harris Savides’ (RIP) cinematography for the first time, while I didn’t really care for it before. Harris’ functional aesthetic was aptly inspired by Chantal Akerman’s ‘Jeanne Dielman’ (1975): A film similar to Sofia’s in many ways. Coppola purposely used the same her father employed on Rumble Fish (1983) to give the film a “softer, more period look”. Sofia also quotes Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and draws from his short Toby Dammit (1968), as well as Peter Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon (1973) for the character of Johnny Marco. To me though more than anything this feels like a Michelangelo Antonioni film.
As an Italian I loved the scenes shot in Milano and hearing Stephen speaking a few words in my native language. Having a passion for films shot in hotel rooms I very much appreciated the secluded and isolated feel of the Chateau and the warm summer feeling this film emanates. Next to Cinecittà there’s no better location than Hollywood itself for a film.
Even if this is one of my very favorite films I can’t recommend it to mainstream audiences: It is slow-paced, contemplative and there’s not much plot. If that however sounds good to you it’s the perfect film it’s filled with little character moments, small details and nice touches. Similar to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation in many ways, so if you liked that one or enjoy her work in general it’s definitely recommended.
Rating on Rewatch
(with my brother, on our Sony Bravia)
9 out of 10