Thursday, May 19, 2011


Has Stephen Dorff EVER top lined a major movie before? He TOTALLY OWNED in Somewhere. Hollywood ennui has never been more fascinating to watch. Sofia Coppola made up for the cream-puff-and-lace-idiocy that was Marie Antoinette in a big way with this quiet, sad, and extremely engrossing look at the life of a movie star who's in the throws of substance abuse and basic emotional meandering. Elle Fanning was delightful as the 11 year old daughter that Dorff has been neglecting.  When his ex-wife has some sort of off-screen breakdown and leaves their daughter with him, Dorff's laconic to the extreme Johnny Marco has to try and become the father that he's been avoiding.  But it's tough to be an effective parent when your days are spent drinking and sexing the hours away with women who show up naked at your hotel room for various forms of entertainment at any given hour and your main food group is alcohol; it's an all-too convincing portrait of Hollywood excess. Harris Savides (Elephant, Zodiac) is a camera-God so it's no surprise that the film has such a beautiful look.  Long master shots comprise most of the film, drawing the viewer in carefully and patiently.  The first 20 minutes or so are nearly wordless, forcing the viewer to take in the atmosphere and the emotional vibe of everyone and everything; the best parts of Somewhere are in the subtle details.  Dorff does so much with so little (dialogue that is) in Somewhere that it's easy to dismiss his performance as just "being there."  Hardly.  Somewhere is a slow-burn, 70's style mood piece with major European influences running through its cinematic veins.  It will definitely frustrate viewers who are looking for a traditional narrative but it will be fantastic for those of us who aren't so concerned with "plot" and external conflict.  Much like The American, this is a film that's all about internal conflict, which for some, can be interpreted as "boring."  Somewhere could only have come from a filmmaker like Coppola (she's stated that aspects of the film are autobiographical) and it's clear that she made exactly the film that she wanted to make.  Oh -- that opening shot that goes on for roughly five minutes -- totally brilliant.

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