Overlooked Film of the Week-#73
Sofia Coppola is the daughter of acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola. She really made a splash in the film industry with her film "Lost In Translation," which starred Scarlet Johansson and Bill Murray. It is a movie I admire quite a bit, and it put Sofia Coppola on my radar in an un-expecting way. I was extremely excited to see her film "Somewhere" which starred Elle Fanning and the underrated Stephen Dorff. I never planned out a time to see the film and I have finally lain eyes on this movie.
"Somewhere" is another winner for Sofia Coppola. It is a movie about the need to be somebody and what inspires us to be better people. The film is a tremendous highlight for Dorff, who is an actor I have enjoyed since he was Frost in the very first "Blade" movie back in 1998. Elle Fanning has also been an interesting actress, and it seems like she is one of the very few young actresses who is superhumanly humble. She seems like somebody who is not jaded by her fame and I think that is important for all rising actresses.
Dorff plays Johnny, a famous actor who lives in Los Angeles. For some great lengths of the film, you will probably sit there bored. There are huge chunks of the film where we just see Johnny live his life, there is not much dialogue and not much emotional value taking place. Don't be surprised if you feel a tad bored, because I think that is part of the point. We are supposed to feel bored because Johnny is bored. This is what happens when someone gets so rich that he has everything, ultimately he has nothing. Johnny is a man who does not know what to do with himself or his free time away from acting. There seems to be an jitter of life that explodes out of him when his daughter Cleo (Fanning) visits him. It is clear that Johnny is either a divorced dad or the father of an unexpected child, it is never discussed which conclusion is true, all we know is that Johnny only sees Cleo sometimes. I like that Sofia sidesteps the normal clichés for children in these movies, Cleo is full of life and she enjoys her time with her dad, she is not estranged by him. The chemistry by Dorff and Fanning is the ultimate prize for watching the movie. They play off in ways I would have never had guessed and it seems they bring out the best in each other's performances. These are not the first actors we think of when casting future roles, but it shows just how talented they both are.
Cleo's mother drops a bomb on Johnny in the middle of the movie, claiming that she has to "go away" for a unknown amount of time and that Johnny is going to have to take care of Cleo, even though he is traveling the world promoting his movie. Johnny sees this as a golden opportunity, there is a genuine emptiness inside of him when Cleo is not around and we feel that emptiness. Cleo inspired Johnny not just to be a better dad, but also to be a better person and just as these two actors bring out their best performances, these two character bring out the best traits hidden in each other.
There are some unexpected funny scenes in this movie that etched a uncanny smile on face. There are small but sufficient cameos by Michelle Monaghan and Benicio del Toro that I liked quite a bit. There is an incredible soundtrack provided by Phoenix that filled my ears with joy. Overall, what makes this film worth it is how these two characters clash with each other, and improve on each other's lives in big ways. This film will make you yearn for more Sofia Coppola, somebody who has something beautiful to say.