Directed by Sofia Coppola. Starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius.
A Hollywood B-list star finds his life is hollow and soon discovers that the real anchor is his own daughter who he hardly ever sees.
For the first 15 or so minutes of the film there’s barely any dialogue. In fact, Stephen Dorff’s character Johnny Marco doesn’t utter a single sentence. He’s too busy filling the void in his heart with empty vices like racing his Ferrari, watching twin strippers pole dancing for him while he’s half falling asleep and generally falling down staircases and fracturing his left wrist.
Director Sofia Coppola uses these montages of Johnny stumbling and fumbling through his celebrity life to show you something you probably don’t realise, especially not here in Bollywood’s home town, where the stars are all glitzy and glam, leading the high life. And slowly but very smoothly Coppola introduces us to Johnny’s 11-year-old daughter Clio, played by the very talented Elle Fanning (Dakota’s li’l sis), whose been living with her mother after her parents’ separation but comes to stay with Johnny for a bit. As an aside, let me just say that 11-year-old girls aren’t what they used to be. Clio ice skates, cooks lavish breakfasts for her dad, is quick-thinking enough to take down the license plates of an SUV that they think is following their car on LA’s paparazzi-infested streets. He doesn’t know it yet, but Clio sorta becomes his saviour, a real-life hero, unlike the ones he plays in his movies.
What’s brilliant about Somewhere is it’s almost real portrayal and life-in-the-days-of documentary style of filmmaking. This could easily have been done in a commercial and dramatic way but that would have killed it. Of course this technique has a drawback. The reviewer behind me said she was bored to tears with the film after. It’s not everyone’s cup ‘a tea, clearly.
Stephen Dorff gets Johnny perfectly. He’s coasting through his life sleep-walking, making out with random women and falling asleep in the midst of giving them cunnilingus (oral sex). He has no clue how to raise a daughter; she’s almost his surrogate mom. But, by the end, it dawns on him that he’s ‘nothing’ but a pawn in the PR machinery of Hollywood and the real star is Clio.
Somewhere doesn’t tell you anything new about the loneliness of stardom or the superficiality of showbiz. But it’s the tender, non-judgmental and realistic portrayal that connects you to this film. That is if you have the patience to stick with its somewhat languid pace.