Never has a performance of two hot twin nurses spinning on stripper poles to the tune of Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” been as listless as it is in Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere.” It’s not merely the story of a guy so jaded with these pleasures but of a person with so little going on in his life that this incident feels quite literally like nothing at all.
Coppola first introduces us to movie star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) racing around a track in his Ferrari, an elegant, but obvious way of saying he’s going nowhere fast. In between films and sporting a broken wrist, his life has diminished to pure tedium.
He sits through mindless press conferences, interviews and awards shows and waits motionless as special effects artist smother him in clay. These are the more mundane moments of a movie star, but arguably still exciting enough for some people. Coppola however shoots without much focus in the frame, mismatched colors and a movie free of music that makes it appear as if these moments were non-events.
In the result, “Somewhere” is plotless, aimless and with nowhere to go rather than somewhere, and Johnny Marco is an unlikeable, worthless actor without character, culture or class.
So why are we watching? Because amongst all of the pretty blonde girls dancing for his attention, there is one who loves him unconditionally: his 11-year-old daughter Cleo.
Played with sunny affectation by Elle Fanning in what was the start of her star-making turn, she gives us a reason to hope against hope that Johnny does ultimately take his life somewhere.
She’s not exactly making him a better person, as most movies would have it, and their sharing of games of “Guitar Hero,” “Wii Tennis,” ping pong and sun bathing by the pool are equally uneventful. But when Cleo puts on ice skates and performs her routine in front of her dad, it’s not a coincidence that it bares some resemblance to the pole dancer performances. It’s our hope though that he ends up going home with this girl instead.
“Somewhere” shares a lot in common with Coppola’s masterpiece “Lost in Translation,” even going as far as to borrow a scene when Johnny is interviewed on Italian TV. That film too took the uneventful life of a movie star but gave us much more than just a reason to like him. “Somewhere” doesn’t have the same luck, but it gives us a glimmer of hope and a feeling that our time has not been wasted.