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The Tedium of Fame in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere

Somewhere, at first glance, harkens back to the director’s 2004 film Lost In Translation. Both take place in hotels, and both involve men that becoming increasingly estranged from the world around them, and both find a meaning for it all in a blonde female companion. The similarities, though, are only superficial. Sofia Coppola is not that simple.

In her newest effort, Coppola paints a portrait of Hollywood that is very contradictory to its current image. Her version is tedious, dead, closed-off and empty. Johnny Marco is an actor that’s seen better days. While he may be working, it’s an unspoken truth that his career has peaked and his days are numbered. Johnny himself seems to know this too, yet is doing everything he can to trick himself into thinking he’s in a good place. It isn’t until the unexpected arrival of his young daughter Cleo that he realizes just how misaligned his life has become. The film follows the pair as they try to create a “normal” life together despite the fact that their circumstances are from that. With Cleo heading to summer camp in the coming weeks, Johnny makes an effort to spend as much quality time with her as possible. Over the course of those weeks, Cleo comes to represent an alternative to the emptiness that is currently overtaking her father. But does he have the strength to finally leave it behind for good?

Dorff and Fanning are perfect in their roles, and the cameras pull back and let them do all the work. Coppola’s camera work allows them to breath, and is indicative of the confidence she has in them to carry the film. Each exhibits a complete knowledge of who their characters are, where they come from, and where they are going. Neither overacts, and each scene is perfectly nuanced. They know themselves and each other so well that talking isn’t necessary. The strongest statements they make are with their eyes, their expressions filling the screen and screaming louder than any voice.

Sofia Coppola excels as a director because each one of her films are relatable on a different level, yet when viewed as a series illustrate a seamless emotional thread. One can almost see a personal progression, perhaps a reflection of the director’s own. Each work is it’s own microcosm that contains in it a stage in someone’s life. While watching The Virgin Suicides, the viewer is overcome by a sense of nostalgia- of what was and what could’ve been. When one watches Lost In Translation, they connect with the protagonists because they know the desperation of not living the life they want. Marie-Antoinette is a tale of total isolation, and the audience empathizes with the title character’s need for escapism. In Somewhere, the hope that one can still be true to themselves in the gilded cage of celebrity reminds the audience of how easily life can slip away. The point of the film is to demonstrate that despite the comforts, people are people. Johnny and Cleo are clear examples that no matter who you are, there will be a cross to bear.

IMDb: Somewhere, Sofia Coppola


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