Somewhere, written/directed by Sophia Coppola. The writer/director who brought us Lost in Translation now brings us Somewhere. The two movies are connected by the disconnect that is felt by the characters. In Lost in Translation, we have characters that are lost in a culture that confounds them. In Somewhere, we have a character that is lost in his own self.
Boredom. The film opens with our main character Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) racing around a circular road in the desert. It is the summer of 2009. Perhaps a vibrant neighborhood was supposed to surround this road, but such plans were abandoned after the housing market crashed. The camera does not move. His car comes in and out of the frame not just once or twice but to the point where you lose track. I am bored and perhaps that is the point, because so is Johnny Marco. He is an action movie star with too much time on his hands. He lives in the Chateau Marmont Hotel. He parties with girls and takes the occasional pill. Women love him and yet despise him. They throw themselves at him and then later send him nasty anonymous texts. (One must ask who the predator is. Is it Johnny or Johnny and the women? The women are the ones flashing their breasts at him.)
Disconnected. After one particular night while watching twin strippers pole dancing in his bedroom, he wakes up to his delightful 11-year old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) writing on his arm cast (in an earlier scene, we see him stumble down a stairwell). Cleo is being dropped off by her mother to spend the day with her father (considering the house the mother and daughter live in, I’ll assume she is Johnny’s ex-wife and not just a former lover).
And so this is the life of Johnny: making action films, having sex with various women and being a father.
His life is largely without meaning and yet he seems grounded in reality. He still hangs out with his life long friend, Sammy (Chris Pontius), who appears to be his only friend. He does promotional duties for his movies without complaint. You almost expect to see him pull the stereotypical Hollywood stunt such as skipping out on an interview or screaming profanities at an error prone movie executive, but he never does so. And though he isn’t involved in his daughter’s life (it takes him a couple years to learn that she is taking ice skating lessons), he still adores her.
Resolution/My Interpretation. An unexpected twist happens that makes him question his life’s path. His ex-wife decides she needs to find herself and tells him that he’s now fully responsible for their daughter. He could have argued with his ex-wife, telling her that he was leaving for a promotional tour in Italy. He could have asked Sammy (who connected well with Cleo) to baby sit for a few days. He could have even called the studio and request that they find a nanny. Considering his lifestyle and the pressures related to promoting a movie, you’d probably not hold it against him if he had chosen one those options; but he doesn’t, he accepts the situation and takes his daughter to Italy with him.
From there, events unfold and he sees the pain (fear, potential future resentment) in his child’s eyes, which causes him to re-assess himself – to find himself.
In the end, Sofia Coppola gives us a minimalist movie layered with depth.