January 05, 2011

MOVIES: Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)

Stephen Dorff is Johnny Marco, a movie star currently living at the Chateau Marmont, a Hollwyood hotel that caters to celebrities' every whim. It's never quite clear how big a star Johnny is, but his fame seems to be mostly foreign; he's whisked off to Milan to collect an award of some sort, and there are only foreign journalists at a press conference to promote his new movie. On the other hand, he's doing well enough that he can afford to stay at the Marmont.

His life, such as it is, is disrupted when his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning) arrives for an extended visit (her mother has decided that she "needs some time"). Johnny and Cleo order room service; he takes her to Milan with him; she cooks an occasional meal; they lounge poolside at the Marmont.

All of this is shown to us in long, lingering shots with minimal dialogue; there's a shot of Johnny and Cleo sitting by the pool that starts close in and lasts for about three minutes -- no dialogue, no movement -- as the camera slooooooooowly pans out. And that's one of the exciting scenes.

We're supposed to feel sorry for poor Johnny, who is so bored with life that he can't stay awake long enough to finish having sex, but Coppola doesn't tell us enough about him, or give him enough of a personality, that we have any reason to care about him. He's just a poor little rich boy.

This is Coppola's third movie in a row about how lonely and sad it is to be rich and famous. I rather liked Lost in Translation, mostly for Bill Murray's performance; and while I was less fond of Marie Antoinette, it at least had an occasional amusing moment from its supporting players. But Somewhere offers nothing of interest; it's the most uneventful waste of time you could spend at the movies this holiday season.

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