Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is really bored and needs somewhere to go. He’s an actor in the spotlight who spends his days lodging in a fancy hotel, partying, and sleeping with any woman who gives him attention (spoiler alert: it’s a lot). It’s clear Marco isn’t doing so well; he sleeps a lot during the day, pays twin strippers to pole dance in his room until he falls asleep, and this is making him empty inside. Condolences, right? But his life takes a new spin when daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) gets dropped off to spend some quality father-daughter time with him.
SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU WANT KNOW HOW IT ENDS, KEEP READING.
SOMEWHERE is a character study and needs a good lead to make it movie worth anyone’s time. It’s not much of a stretch for an actor to play an actor, especially as an actor playing an actor who gets all the women and booze he wants (an unlovable loser), but with a story regarding the aforementioned, we should want to connect with this person’s emotions. Most dream of a life like this, so without the sympathy card, this movie will not work. Dorff brings to life an actor exhausted by and of this lonely repetitive lifestyle. It’s GROUNDHOG DAY for the rich and bored. Dorff is a very unexpected choice for Coppola, but he fills his scenes marvelously.
Sofia Coppola has a very unique way of storytelling; she likes to use layers and symbolism, whether it be in your face, or very subtle. There’s an obvious pattern in SOMEWHERE. In the opening scene, Marco drives his black Lamborghini multiples times around some sort of small racetrack; he goes around and around. This scene sets the tone for the entire film. SOMEWHERE is a very quiet film, but its message about loneliness, repetition, and boredom is pretty loud.
It should be noted that SOMEWHERE is a lot like Coppola’s sophomore feature, LOST IN TRANSLATION. Our characters spend their lonely lives living in hotels, drinking, and trying to figure out how to be happy. SOMEWHERE’s message about “the good life” isn’t as powerful and intriguing as LIT’s, but the message is still there.
Notable performances also come from Elle Fanning and Chris Pontius. Actually, it their performances together are what should really be pointed out. Pontius is widely known as a member of the JACKASS crew, doing really weird things, but here, he proves he can perform on screen without showing his penis and going off a script. He’s good with kids and his interactions with Fanning are quite adorable. As long as she can handle so much stardom at such a young age, Elle is well on her way to being the Fannings’ biggest name.
The one and only thing that gets under my skin more than it should considering how much I liked this film is how the ending was made. Marco is driving down a desolate road, he pulls over (car still running), and walks away. End scene. Is Coppola trying to tell us he’s leaving everything behind, including his adorable daughter and their newfound friendship? Earlier in the film, Marco’s car breaks down, he makes one phone call and gets picked up. He’s had his hand held his entire career, so if this is Sofia’s way of telling us he truly checked out, it’s a true cop out. She’s a natural at storytelling, so Marco’s exit should have been better told.
Even with its irritating ending, there’s something so relatable about Marco that makes the story go, well, somewhere. Desperation? Loneliness? He’s living a life most have passioned for and gets burned out, and his decision to leave this lifestyle behind is oddly gratifying. SOMEWHERE is so close to ideally showing that faded feeling and how almost losing your way should sometimes be looked at as a well-adjusted life change.