Is Sofia Coppola tracing ever-decreasing circles of interest? As her fourth pic opens with a movie star driving a car round in circles, it’s tempting to suggest as much.
Set largely in an LA hotel, its spin on privileged indolence recalls Lost In Translation minus Bill Murray’s weathered dignity. Instead, we get Stephen Dorff as party-pooped actor Johnny Marco, who’s too young to be so bored.
The role of female redeemer is taken by his 11-year-old kid Cleo (Elle Fanning); think Scarlett Johansson via a survivor of Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides.
Yet Somewhere isn’t about pity-me pleading or broad redemptive arcs. It’s about tiny, telling, fine-lined observations, ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’.
Made all the more immersive by slow takes and unfussy cinematography, key scenes lightly register the weight of a fleeting father-daughter connection: Cleo snoozing on Johnny’s shoulder, say, or the loving preparation of breakfast in the best slow-cooked egg sequence since Stanley Tucci’s Big Night.
Judiciously placed cameos add wry spice (a droll Benicio Del Toro, a spiky Michelle Monaghan), though the groaning car metaphors and a sour PR parody are rare tonal misfires.
Mood and moments are more Coppola’s style: she aces the downtime that exposes an inner life. Quietly nuanced performances serve her well here, Dorff managing to engage without straining to charm and Fanning proving poignant as a girl approaching teen hell.
When Cleo’s tears finally come, Somewhere’s familiarity looks less relevant than its minimalist precision and resonant ring of emotional authenticity.
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