Saturday, September 04, 2010

Venice Film Festival 2010: A Review of "Somewhere"

Directed by Sofia Coppola
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Michelle Monaghan, Benicio Del Toro
Grade: B -

Sofia Coppola's work frequently requires you to delve into the minds of her characters, and of her four feature-length productions, "Somewhere" is the film that most guiltily holds back on emotional expression. The story of the disillusioned celebrity is hardly a new concept, but Coppola finds a way to tell a story that doesn't play up to conceits or formulae, crafting a genuine father-daughter relationship and maintaining a rather scathing stance on "celebrity", and its tendency to distract from real-world connections.

Sparsely-shot scenes litter the first act, curbing the film's accessibility considerably. For instance, there are two separate pole dancing scenes within ten minutes of each other, and don't contribute enough to our view of Stephen Dorff's Johnny enough to warrant inclusion. The film feels wallowing and suspended before the entrance of Chloe (Fanning), and at only 90 minutes more scenes between them is needed to fully grasp the looseness of their relationship. One feels that Coppola is selling this story a little short.

Still, there are many moments where she effectively conveys the distance and distortion a life of luxury can create, and in a tenderly different way to the dislocation in "Lost in Translation". This film is more about the dangers of taking things for granted, and the denouement of Coppola's film somewhat atones for the overall slightness of its scope.

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