Where is SOMEWHERE going?
Nowhere, says Perrin Drumm on this site, and I wouldn’t want to argue. It’s a valid point, and the extraordinarily plot-less plot of this new film is not for everyone. We watch the mundane unfold as Sofia Coppola’s protagonist, famous actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) wanders from hotel room to pool to lobby to shower to car to press conference to the bed of yet one more blonde … then he hangs out with his eleven year-old daughter (Elle Fanning). She cries, he cries … he’s now vaguely more aware of a nagging dissatisfaction … and that’s about it! But some people do like these sorts of very-low-to-the-ground films – and I’m always one of them. The problem with Coppola’s film? It’s not the visuals, which are absolutely captivating — it’s the content. If I have to watch this amazingly talented woman do one more study of excess, wealth and celebrity, even I will cancel my subscription to Town and Country and move out of the Chateau Marmont for good, just in protest. In all seriousness, — c’mon, Sof, it’s a recession out there. Most of us can’t even afford Gray’s Papaya anymore.
I’m not saying I want her to go all out WINTER’S BONE, but come now, there are human experiences other than consumption, fame, sex and ennui that are worthy material for Coppola’s expert eye and detached storytelling style. (She’s particularly good at ironic detailing, organic dialogue, and structuring mundane material.) THE VIRGIN SUICIDES was a great start! I hope Coppola makes more films with a greater range of life experience, engaging a wider swath of scenarios, personalities, financial situations, types of locations.
And as far as the slow-as-you-go films? Here are some gems to check out: Agnès Varda’s CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (Agnes Varda, 1962), wherein we literally experience the title’s two hours. Cleo (referenced in Coppola’s film as Elle Fanning’s character shares that name) wanders through Paris, from park to art class to projection room, waiting for the results of a medical test. True, Cleo is also privileged (she’s a pop star), but Varda is engagement with all types of people in the city, plus paints a politicized back drop of the French/Algerian conflict, which works nicely against the too-rich-to-stomach effect that surfaces in SOMEWHERE. In Benoît Jacquot’s A SINGLE GIRL (1995), we watch the protagonist clean hotel rooms for two hours. Both of these films are gorgeous, and have the advantage of having slightly higher stakes than SOMEWHERE. (The medical test Cleo waits for will tell her whether or not she has cancer; our hotel maid has, moments before arriving for her first day on the job, just told her boyfriend that she is pregnant and keeping the baby.) Take it slow and check out all three films.
Coppola and Varda trailers below: