IN KEEPING with the traditions of Hollywood bad boys past and present, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) resides at the Chateau Marmont, where he is visited nightly by assorted hangers-on, groupies and two identical blonde pole-dancing nurses; their medical credentials are questionable but they certainly have a pleasing bedside manner.
Reality rarely intrudes on Johnny’s personal Hollywood Babylon. Work consists of a solitary press conference on a plush Italian beano. Daylight hours are given to crusing around in cars that cost more than private planes. Johnny’s oldest friend, a decent-hearted reveller played by Chris Pontius, turns up periodically to chill out at his famous pal’s pad. That’s right, folks: in this part of the world, the Jackass party boy is what passes for straightlaced and normal.
Johnny’s only other link to normality is a daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), a pretty tweenie little thing from a long defunct relationship. The tender and temporary nature of this father- daughter relationship is the focus of this wilfully unfocused film.
Lost in Translationhad its brief encounter; Marie Antionettehad the mob at the door; The Virgin Suicideshad, well, the virgin suicides. Somewhere, the fourth film from the talented Sofia Coppola, offers nothing so tangible. If anything this poetic study of celebrity downtime and dissolution seems hell-bent on making the quieter moments of the Coppola back catalogue seem like the car chase from The French Connection.
Once again, Coppolla, a brilliant visual stylist, has crafted a disarmingly beautiful portrait of the jet set staring off in perpetual boredom. Boo hoo, you may think; we certainly did. There’s little doubting the authenticity of this nowhere world of priviledged ennui. But for those of us who are neither Hollywood royalty nor a Coppolla by birth, it’s hard to care.
The trouble with depicting boredom, to misquote Zelda Fitzgerald, is that it gets very boring, very quickly.The film’s careful avoidance of dramatic moments and daddy-daughter bonding scenes is, consequently, both a strength and a tedious flaw.
A delicate, subtle confection composed of tiny movements, gorgeous tableaux and people who think “M’eh” about everything, we suspect that, like Marie Antoinette, Somewhere,will deepen and ripen with repeated viewings. For now, however, we’re left feeling like the film’s not particularly sympathetic hero: deadened, numb, aimless, with no direction home.