Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere has been branded ‘Lost in Translation 2’ amongst journalists at the festival and I can see why. The similar style, characters, relationships and settings are the same, the music is by the same artist (Phoenix, whose lead vocalist is Coppola’s husband) and the resolution has a similar sombre tone. Yet, perhaps these features are what make Coppola unique, an auteur. Her father Frances Ford commented on this similarity by saying that he liked the film because it was one that only she could make, and this is what all directors should do.
The film takes place in the legendary Hotel Marmot in los Angeles, where a run down actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) goes to take time out after completing a film and ends up taking care of his estranged 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning). Before her arrival his life consists of partying, drinking all day, watching pole dancers and racing his Ferrari, so when Fanning appears the film becomes more introspective and looks at the silliness of star culture. As Dorff learns how to be a father, he makes the transition from boy into man.
Coppola has said of her fascination with characters in transition, in places of transition (the movement of characters in hotels) that she finds the state very interesting and that her experience growing up around film sets, moving from place to place has been a great influence on this pattern.
Coppola has said her favourite scene in the film is one where twin strippers pole dance on a single pole, for Dorff, who has fallen asleep. Dorff commented that the character of Johnny Marco came at the perfect time in his career when he was going through a similar transition, having completed a lot of films and finding himself in a lonely place, searching for meaning. He said that he and Coppola had agreed that Marco had shot to fame and had not always been an actor, funnily enough Dorff comes from a similar position having achieved fame in 2002 with a role as a vampire in Blade.
Coppola said of her desire to write from a man’s point of view as a wish to challenge herself ‘Its something that I hadn’t done before and I wanted to do. I wanted to see the world the morning after a night of heavy partying to show a different angle to the showbiz world we all see’. Coppola, who has recently given birth to her first child, commented that writing the film after this experience had a definite impact on how the characters developed.
I enjoyed the film but if compared to Lost in Translation I’d say Somewhere has less laughs. It’s a tough call.