Starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning and Chris Pontius. Directed by Sofia Coppola. 96 minutes. 14A
Somewhere is like that canvas in the art gallery painted all blue. It’s simple. It’s silent. But it’s got a lot of meaning. And it leaves half of the room confused and angry.
The film centres around Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a newcomer to Hollywood, though living a life of ennui already. He drinks a lot, drives a fancy car and hooks up with countless women, but he doesn’t feel anything for any of it. It’s like a song about drugs, sex and rock n roll on repeat, until there’s no thrill to it at all. The opening 15-minute dialogue-less montage of his life is cut abruptly when we meet Cleo (Elle Fanning), his 11-year-old daughter. She visits occasionally and he goes through the fatherly motion at first, taking her to skating lessons, playing video games with her, but when Cleo’s mother doesn’t pick her up one day, handing Cleo off to Johnny for a while, things change.
Although based on the overindulgent, glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, nearly everything about this film is very minimal. From story to set to sounds, it’s all very subtle, reminding us about the beauty of simplicity. Silence can say just as much as song, and in this film it does. It gives the film a sense of reality.
Adding to this, the film is also chock full of emotion. There’s not much said throughout the entire film, but through actions, and particularly Fanning’s facial expressions, we see the abyss of emptiness in both Johnny and Cleo, for different reasons.
This film takes a lot of risks. While some things are drawn out and extended into what seems like eternity, other elements are completely absent or minimal. It’s a film so bold and daring that you could easily see it as either a masterpiece or a disaster. A-