If it feels like I’m writing the same review after every Sofia Coppola movie I see, maybe it’s because she keeps making the same one over and over. As such, it’s quite fitting that the first shot of “Somewhere” shows a car driving in circles… Now, part of the auteur theory is that all good directors keep revisiting the same themes and refining the same distinctive style. But the question is not whether or not Coppola is an auteur; she definitely is, I just don’t personally care about what (little) she has to say and, while she undeniably can shoot pretty pictures and set them to cool music, that’s the stuff of great music videos, not great filmmaking.
At least, her previous films had charismatic, resourceful leads like Kirsten Dunst or Bill Murray. “Somewhere” stars… Stephen Dorff. Not necessarily a bad actor, but left to his own devices in this typically uneventful, underwritten Sofia Coppola movie, he comes off like a big cipher as Johnny Marco, a rich and famous movie star who’s grown bored of his glamorous, hedonistic lifestyle. He’s the kind of blasé motherfucker who can barely crack a smile while two blonde twins (Playboy Playmates Kristina and Karissa Shannon) in cute little outfits give him private pole-dancing shows in his Chateau Marmont suite…
Even though “Somewhere” is ostensibly about ennui (like every Sofia Coppola flick), that’s not an excuse for it being so damn dull. Otherwise, why even bother telling this story? Oh, there is a bit of drama eventually, very very late in the game, but it revolves around one of my least favorite clichés: the older character who gets a life lesson through hanging out with a kid, in this case Johnny Marco’s 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), who makes him realize how empty his existence is or something.
What else? I guess Coppola is trying for a bit of showbiz satire with those scenes at a press junket, in a special effects studio, at a movie premiere in Italy, etc. But none of that stuff is either funny, biting or insightful. It all feels like filler ultimately, and I dare you not to groan at the non-ending. I honestly can’t fathom what anyone could see in “Somewhere” worth giving it a positive review, let alone an award, like the Venice Film Festival jury led by Quentin Tarantino did.