(*homocinematically inclined)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reel Thoughts: Sophia's Choice

Sofia Coppola’s films, like her acting, take some getting used to. The Virgin Suicides was an unremittingly dark tale of suburban angst, while Marie Antoinette was a candy-colored nightmare. Only Lost in Translation seemed to find a quietly powerful place in people’s hearts, and the low-key film energized the careers of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff as a debauched action movie star living in the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, aims to cast some light on showbiz lives of the rich and famous, but it is so inert as to be more slideshow than movie.

Dorff's Johnny Marco is a familiar character: the Hollywood player who has so much fame and money, he’s about run out of ways to spend it. Twin strippers who do private shows with their own poles in your room? Check. More booze and drugs than a year with Lindsay Lohan? Check. Gorgeous groupies who show up in your bed naked? Check. Eleven year-old daughter left on your doorstep? Oops!

Elle Fanning (Dakota’s little sister) plays Cleo, Johnny’s adoring daughter who is left with the star by her mother who, in true 1970’s fashion, leaves to “find herself.” Coppola loves long, silent scenes of people lying by a pool or cars driving around and around in the desert. Cleo loves her dad, and suddenly Johnny has to man up and be the father he never was.

Dorff is an intense actor who does his best, and I welcomed any scene that the lovely Fanning graced; she is primed to match her big sister’s fame, and has equal talent. However, to say that Coppola pads a half hour or less of material with pretentious pauses and self-indulgent hoo-haw is being charitable. Given the choice, you’d probably prefer the broken arm Johnny suffers from to sitting through 97 minutes of Hollywood angst. Check out episodes of Entourage if you want a showbiz fix, but Somewhere is nowhere you’ll want to be.

UPDATE: Somewhere is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.


  1. I really wanted to like this movie...especially since The Chateau is one of my fave places. But dang did it suck. Loved the characters, loved the acting...but Sofia tries too hard to be arty and fails painfully. Great review!

  2. Thanks for the compliment! I really wanted to like it, too, but if this is the footage she used, what the %$#! was left on the cutting room floor?!

  3. I love your blog! I followed you! Its nice to see a gay man write so well on films. :) keep on writing!