Hola all. Massawyrm here.
It’s rare that you get to see a film whose origin is so transparent that it pervades every second of it. I can imagine that, since she was quite small, Sofia Coppola has been told “Man, it must be so fucking cool to have a dad like Francis Ford Coppola.” And I also can imagine her shrugging and saying “He’s just a dad.” That’s not to say she doesn’t love or respect him, but rather that she knows him the same way we all know our own fathers and has all the same kinds of issues we do with them. SOMEWHERE is Sofia Coppola’s attempt to paint a somewhat fictional picture merging the experiences she’s had with bored Hollywood celebrities with those of her childhood following around her legendary dad. And while you’d think that she would have an awful lot to say on the matter, the truth is she either is unwilling or unable to say it.
SOMEWHERE is a meandering mess that wanders around as bored and as pitiless as its protagonist Johnny Marco. It feels as if Coppola is hyperaware that the audience is intimately familiar with every detail of her life - ranging from her awkward childhood up to her marriage and romantic entanglements - that she doesn’t want to draw any unfavorable comparisons to the people she cares about, so she instead leaves everything potentially negative about the characters in subtext or contained entirely off screen. Instead, she focuses only upon the most mundane and uninteresting bits of Marco’s daily life in order to stress just how boring the life of a celebrity can really be. After all, they’re just like everybody else, right? But it is nearly impossible to make a movie about a boring person without becoming as tedious and nigh unwatchable as your subject, and that’s where this goes terribly wrong.
This is a film in which nothing happens and very little backstory is ever laid out. Johnny Marco is a bored action hero who gets saddled with his daughter (who he loves) when his Ex decides she needs some time to herself. Completely unoccupied at the time, Marco tries to be super dad and hangs out with his daughter as often as possible. And we watch them hang out. A lot. And the film never, ever goes anywhere from there. Father and daughter share an uncomplicated, loving relationship. While Marco is allegedly an asshole and gets an unending stream of anonymous nasty text messages as a result, we never really see why, and every time the film seems to swing towards Marco’s debauchery, it cuts away, because that might prove to be interesting.
The film just chugs along, always feeling as if it is just on the verge of starting before veering once again into another pointless string of scenes that all seem to answer the question “What was it like…” with “It was pretty fucking boring, but I love him.” Worst of all, if a series of false starts didn’t get on yours nerves, the pointless, “what the fuck is that all about,” ending will just lay you flat. The film just ends, with a somewhat inexplicable final sequence that is out of character, out of touch and just plain out of place; it is where the movie ceases to be boring and just becomes pretentious.
The one good thing worth mentioning is that Elle Fanning performs quite admirably. She’s not really given any complicated theatrical gymnastics to prove herself with, but she sure sticks the landing. She does however give the impression of being able to handle a more complicated or intense film, had Coppola suited up to make one. But sadly, her performance is wasted on film that for all I know is swimming in autobiographical in-jokes and layers of emotion that Coppola just doesn’t know how to properly unlock and share with an audience.
If you like a film that is told entirely in its subtext and only in its subtext, then you might find enough interesting here to be entertained. Fans of Coppola who have memorized her biography might find nuggets buried here worth digging up. But everyone else is likely to find Coppola has very little to say here and goes a very long, laborious way to say it. It is exactly the type of film that shows up during awards season, wins nothing whatsoever, and then vanishes forever, forgotten into the mists of time.
Until next time friends,
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