2010. 97 minutes. Rated R.

Nothing much really happens in this slice of life pic. Actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) has an endless string of wine, women and song in between gigs to abate his boredom. When his ex decides she needs a break and sends their tweenage daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) to live with him for a bit, he curbs his behavior, swapping twosomes with pole dancers with guitar hero and homemade eggs benedict (his kid makes an amazing hollandaise, I’m jealous) and brings his daughter with him to Milan to promote his new film. Their time together grows increasingly less stilted, and when it’s time for her to leave for summer camp, Dad has an epiphany about the Meaning of Life.

Somewhere movie still

Bonding over Guitar Hero

I don’t have kids (or, didn’t at the time of writing this review 8 years ago!). I can’t relate to Hollywood lifestyle of excesses. I have never ridden in a Ferrari, much less driven one. But I found Somewhere fairly relatable, in spite of all of this. There is no tragedy that leads Johnny Marco to his wakeup call, but it’s a powerful one nonetheless. Sometimes, something happens that allows you to refocus your attention on what really matters.

Things I liked:

The (not-so-subtle) metaphor. The film opens with Johnny driving his snazzy Ferrari in endless circles on a closed race track, mirroring his life of going nowhere fast.

The boring parts. There are many long, drawn-out moments, including one where I actually said aloud, why didn’t the director edit that a bit? For example, Johnny and Cloe listen to a musician for the full length of a song; in most films, this would be trimmed to an excerpt and you’d still have the sense of the passage of time. For an audience member who grew up on Sesame Street, this is a little painful to sit through, but it effectively drives home the point of Johnny’s dull life. At the end of the film, I said to my (then) boyfriend, wow that really needing editing. And he replied, no, I loved it, that was the point. In hindsight, it’s strongly evocative.

The focus of the film is the action (or lack of), so there are many observational shots, and little dialogue, which makes the film seem even longer and intensifies the boredom (likely a deliberate choice by director Sofia Coppola). A lovely movie, if you have the patience to sit through it.

Author: Beth G.

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