(M) Universal DVD
Comfortably numbed, movie star Johnny Marcus (Stephen Dorff) drifts along.
He’s between films and has fallen out with his latest co-star, living in the iconic Chateau Marmont in the heart of LA. His life is a fog of alcohol, women and prescription drugs.
Then, out of the blue, Marcus’ ex-wife drops his 11-year-old daughter Chloe (Elle Fanning) off at his doorstep.
He takes her to her ice skating lesson, at first disinterested and then transfixed, not realising his daughter has genuine talent.
Slowly he re-connects with his daughter and out of blue his ex-wife asks that he look after Chloe for a longer period, intimating she may not come back. They spend time together, visiting Italy on a junket for his latest film, bonding until she goes to summer camp.
Their encounters ultimately encourage Johnny to face up to where he is in life and what he must do.
To say director Sophia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette) has crafted a poignant and interesting film is an understatement.
Coppola strips the artifice from celebrity in the same way her filmmaking style is free of gimmickry. No special effects, no shaky camera work, just pure filmmaking that paints an intimate and empathetic portrait.
Apparently drawn from her own experiences growing up, Coppola’s screenplay is as well observed as her actors have captured their naturalistic roles.
Coppola’s “movie star” Johnny is a mass of meandering nihilism when we meet him at the beginning of the film and Dorff has captured him perfectly.
Fanning is brilliant as Chloe, a challenge to her father’s drone-like existence. In the scenes where Johnny and Chloe have the all-expenses paid junket to Italy, Chloe is the luminous pure soul in a sea of fake tans and glitter.
Already having won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Somewhere restores my faith in the art and subtlety of filmmaking.