Somewhere is definitely one of those films that you like more than you respect. Sure you like the qualities and ideas that the movie brings up, but the movie either drops these qualities and ideas too quickly or uses them in a cliché fashion. That is not to say the film wasn’t enjoyable because it, most certainly, was.
Somewhere follows actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) who is a womanizer/life-of-the-party figure. When his daughter comes to visit one day, he essentially has a mid-life crisis. The film follows his process through this crisis.
Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) directs and writes the film. While the directing is phenomenal, the screenplay is a disaster. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a 10 year old with some sort of knowledge of movies could write this screenplay. There is minimal use of dialogue, and the film is lucky in that it is saved from this by some great cinematography and good casting. However, the ending of the film could not be salvaged from the screenplay. The result is one of the most clichéd endings in film history.
As mentioned above, the cast of this movie is one of its saviors. Stephen Dorff does some great subtle acting here. The role does not require a lot from him, but he has to do the very difficult task of holding the screen the entire time. Not only does he have to hold it the entire time, but he has to do it with minimal dialogue and with actions that make him look despicable. If he comes across as looking as the bad guy, the movie would fail completely. Luckily, Dorff succeeds. Another important part of the cast is Elle Fanning as Johnny’s daughter Cleo. Fanning and Dorff have amazing chemistry together. Fanning is also able to show a wide range of emotions and a lot of physicality that would be tough for an actress in her prime to pull off let alone a 12-year old actress (which is Elle Fanning’s age at the release of the film). The big surprise of the film, however, is Chris Pontius who comes off as extremely likeable and does not at all fill the dumb but loyal friend stereotype his character was meant to be (which is even more surprising when you realize that Pontius’s biggest claim to fame is the Jackass series).
Another saving grace of the film is the cinematography, which is easily some of the best work done on any film this year. It somehow allows you to be enticed by an image for long amounts of time as the shots of choice for the film are long shots that zoom in or out on it’s point of attraction. Cinematography was not the only behind the camera aspect that was good. The film also has a good soundtrack that mixes some old and current hits into the film.
It might just be that I love films about the Hollywood lifestyle, but I should not have liked this film as much as I did. The screenplay is an absolute train wreck, but the parts surrounding it make up for it in the end.
Somewhere was released in Los Angeles and in New York this past Wednesday and will be released to other cities at a later date