“Somewhere” : Sofia Coppola

Written and directed by the enigmatic Sophia Coppola, Somewhere (2010) can easily be compared to her previous films, The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Lost in Translation (2003) through similar plot elements and minimal camera movement. The editing is rather slow and the narrative leaves more to the imagination than delivering the audience all the answers. Thus I have concluded that if you did not enjoy Lost in Translation then you will probably not like this film because some shots or sequences can seem pointless or rather dull. However, I rather enjoyed it because it allowed me to infer what I believed was going through each characters mind. One of the biggest similarities between Coppola’s films is who the narrative is relayed through. There always seems to be an older man, wise in some ways but very juvenile in others, and then a young female (or multiple females as in The Virgin Suicides) whom look up to the men for a littler support, guidance, and clarity in this hectic world.

In an interview Sofia Coppola was asked,

Your stories are told through the perspective of young, innocent girls. Is this a conscious decision? 

And she responded,

“Well, ‘Somewhere’ is told more from the point of view of the Johnny Marco character [played by Stephen Dorff], but yes, we do see an exotic world through the eyes of his daughter Cleo [Elle Fanning]. They have a link because I guess I like these kind of girls. Charlotte [Lost in Translation] and Cleo are thoughtful observers. I like girls that have to break out of their environment to define themselves in their own way.”

Though this is a strong parallel that can be found in all four of her feature-length films (the fourth being Mary Antoinette) I would say that the most prominent themes are the endless search for meaning, direction, and love. In Somewhere, the film begins with Stephen Dorff’s character, Johnny Marco, driving around a track in his black Ferrari for almost three minutes. The car continues to go round and round, the camera remains motionless, then he stops, gets out and walks off-screen. This is symbolic of his life at this moment. He is on a repetitive path that has no end (or exit) and it is predictable as well as lonely. Now for the viewer who expects constant action and excitement, their experience with the film would probably end here because this lengthy opening scene could be seen as redundant and monotonous. However, I was confident in the significance of this beginning and it eventually served to be juxtaposed with the films denouement. Johnny Marco is driving a long multiple roads that have a direction, though the end is unknown it is the mystery that makes this new journey exciting. He parks his car on a dirt road in the middle of the desert and walks away from it, towards the camera, bearing a curious and confident smirk on his face. He travels through the film not knowing what he wants, where he is going, or what he is looking for, that is until his daughter Cleo appears. Love is the universal desire that drives us to do crazy things and causes us to do anything to have it. This ultimately leads Johnny to alter his cyclical nature and take a new path, one where unconditional love is alive and present. In addition, the symbolic nature of the road is again reflected in the title and it is not until the end the this ‘somewhere’ leads to another ‘somewhere’.

The film possesses a simple elegance and sophistication, not trying to hard to be a completely Indie film as well as not faltering to Hollywood’s expectations. Considering Sofia Coppola is Hollywood royalty (her father Francis Ford Coppola and her cousin is Nicholas Cage), I am always enamoured with her work because she has an idiosyncratic vision that she does not stray from. She is true to her creativity and is seemingly not influenced by the expectations of the film industry, which is why I find her so inspirational.

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