With a more or less unanimous “not good enough” verdict delivered at last week’s Venice Film Festival, Sofia Coppola‘s Somewhere — which won’t open until 12.24, and will probably be hiding out for the next couple of months — can now relax. Impressions of it not being a Lost in Translation-level thing — a mildly meandering mood piece — means it’s probably out of the awards game. Which takes the load off. I won’t see it for a while, but Richard Corliss‘s Time review (filed from Venice) seemed like the best-written assessment.
“Over the past decade, directors of movies and TV shows have gone nuts with shaky-cam technique. Bless Coppola for keeping her camera still, but she goes to the other extreme, of European minimalism. Like [Stephen Dorff‘s] Johnny, the movie is an object in stasis. In the whole movie the camera moves only a few times, and then just to give a slighter wider or closer view of the same static image (like Johnny’s head caked in makeup goo for a monster mark).
“Other directorial ideas smell of freshman film school: the opening shot, of Johnny driving in a wide circle six or eight times, matched by the closing shot, of Johnny leaving his car to walk straight down a highway. The film is sometimes too obvious, often too opaque.
“The blase-faire strategy extends to the main character. Coppola is to be cheered for not editorializing about Johnny; he’s not a walking placard for Hollywood excess, not a desperate artist. He’s really not much of anything. And he’s not played by a star whose previous roles could give a hint to his internal makeup.
“In Lost in Translation, Murray’s soft, saddish face, and of course his quarter-century playing louche funnymen, brought a comic attitude to the quiet, precisely observed proceedings. Dorff, 37, started acting on TV when he was Chloe’s age, in an episode of The New Leave It to Beaver, and starred in Backbeat (as original bass player Stu Sutcliffe) and Blade. Handsome, but not distractingly so, he has an agreeably crinkled face that could reveal his character’s emotions, if Johnny wanted to convey any.
“What Dorff lacks, no insult intended, is a clearly defined movie personality that would help clue the viewer to what’s going on inside Johnny — and, for that matter, inside the film.
“Those secrets must be gleaned from the gifted young actress playing Johnny’s daughter. The younger sister of Dakota Fanning, Elle gives Cleo a fresh, winning goodness. She likes rock ‘n roll, cooking, figure skating and Twilight. She’s something you don’t find in most movies, especially movies about movie people — a nice, normal kid — and Coppola must have been tempted to make Cleo the central character. But the writer-director resists any plot device as stark as redemption. Johnny is on his own at the end of the film, and viewers will have to intuit that, for this Hollywood nomad, Cleo’s heart is his true home. She is the somewhere he needs to get to.”
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2016207,00.html#ixzz0yljxUZ9I