I want to have a conversation with the internet about Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere. I wish that it had come out sooner. I that it was given the time that it deserves in the spotlight. Because, while I can tell you that I was absolutely disappointed by the ending of this film, I think about the movie every day since I saw it.
Somewhere isn’t a film for everyone. The film walks leisurely to its conclusion. It’s pacing will turn many people off. Long shots may seem too long, pointless. Sophia Coppola creates a film that allows thought within the film itself. It demands you to question every part of the screen in front of you. What is going on? What is this film up to?
Largely, the film is about performance. Performance of a Hollywood actor. Performance of the Hollywood lifestyle. Performance of a father. Societal norms. Social creation of personality.
This film is sprinkled with female nudity, and where many may view it as gratiutious, its perhaps some of the most interesting nudity I’ve seen in a film in a long time. In two scenes, what appear to be twin pole dancers visit our main character, Johnny Marco, in his hotel room. They are clearly bored performing for a Hollywood star, as they probably do every night. The same goes for Johnny. He no longer has any interest in objectifying women. All he knows is that this is what he’s supposed to do. Johnny’s on auto pilot, as many of us are on a daily basis.
I never really felt for Johnny, which is probably why I disliked the ending. Overall, the film made me feel good. I’m not quite sure I’m supposed to feel for Johnny, as an audience member. He becomes a dynamic character very late in the film. His turning point comes too late in his life, and the scene in which he makes his realization is so gentle, so kind, yet so absurd.
There is only one person not “performing” in this film. Johnny Marco sits down his daughter, Cleo (played beautifully by Elle Fanning), to watch a man that works in the hotel perform on his guitar. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the only time in the film where it appears that everyone is at peace, experiencing perhaps some actual sort of happiness. The man working at the hotel is playing guitar because he wants to. No one else in the film knows why they are doing what they are doing. They are just fitting in with the culture, victims of the norm.
I can’t help but think about the reaction to Marie Antoinette, a film I hold in high regard, when watching this film. Critics didn’t want Marie Antoinette from Coppola, and appears quite a lot of people don’t want a film like Somewhere from here, either. In many ways, this film feels like a reaction to the failure of Antoinette. The film world didn’t want Marie Antoinette from her. Often, this film feels like a “fuck you” to those that wish to put Sophia in a corner, a flying finger to anyone who dares tell a person how to live their life.
I find I have a hard time trying to focus my thoughts for this film. Perhaps I’m as lost as the people in this movie are. I think we all are, at times. We all struggle with what we’re told to do what what we feel is objectively right. It’s so easy to give in to the world. What would happen if we all broke free?
Is it possible?