Rated R for sexual content, nudity and language, 97 minutes
Pensive but engaging celebrity tale "Somewhere"
The real question may be "Where are you?" The answer doesn't necessarily lie in Sofia Coppola's pensive, low-key new drama "Somewhere," and while the independently-made, superbly acted tale about celebrity status isn't always the most approachable film, it further reveals that Coppola remains one of cinema's more unconventional filmmakers.
Hollywood actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), nested in the luxurious L.A. hotel Chateau Marmont, is a stimulated man. Drinking, parties and women keep a creeping boredom under wraps in between jobs. He is the occasional father of a bright girl, Cleo (Elle Fanning), who may be spoiled but doesn't act it. When Cleo unexpectedly shows up for an extended stay, Johnny brings her along for the ride, but he may be forced to make changes to his privileged lifestyle.
Coppola's alluring, glossy tale of celebrity, "Somewhere" treads familiar Coppola territory; however, the slow-moving character study shows that fame doesn't necessarily bring relationships of substance. Some scenes are supposedly semi-autobiographical and based on Coppola's own famous upbringing, but it all has a familiar pensive air to it from other Coppola films, particularly "Lost in Translation," which examined similar issues. Still, Coppola is an interesting director who uses her elements well, while dwelling on the silence of a lonely road or the trinkling water in a swimming pool.
Most important, Coppola uses her actors well in what is essentially a two-character play, and it helps that both Dorff and Fanning give subtle but charming performances that carry the film. The Hollywood lifestyle is portrayed realistically but not sympathetically; it seems to be a lonely road filled with people who want to be around you for your celebrity. There are also some tunes from the folk rock group Phoenix that are integrated well into the film.
"Somewhere" may be in a lonely, sad place, and the provocative ending may leave you wondering if the characters ended up in the place they wanted to be. Coppola, a director of remarkable strength and intelligence, keeps you guessing.