Monday, 13 December 2010

Somewhere - Cineworld - 10/12/10

Sofia Coppola.

First American woman to be nominated for an Oscar for directing...and the American woman who should have been the first to receive the Oscar for directing.  The fact that she wasn't says everything about the Academy and nothing about Coppola.  The woman who did win was, of course, Kathryn Bigelow who won for making a "manly" film about war...and guns...and bombs...with MEN.  Coppola is an entirely different beast...she makes films about the small, intimate, personal and life changing whether that is in "The Virgin Suicides" the most unlikely of odes to adolescence or in "Marie Antoinette" where it is the struggle for identity in the face of enormous pressure she stays true to a consistent personal vision without compromise.

"Somewhere" shares most in common with "Lost In Translation" which was a film that I went to see at the cinema 6 nights in a row and that I have watched dozens more times on DVD because it speaks to me in a way that almost no other film ever has.  I realise how awful that sounds; "Oh yeah, I just love Coppola because, like, her work speaks to me on so many different levels yeah?  Yeah."  I'm not apologising though because it's true, "Lost in Translation" made me feel like, oh I'm about to make it worse, there was someone who understood me.  Will someone take me outside and shoot me before I disappear up my own backside?

"Somewhere" takes us inside the life of Johnny Marco; handsome, successful and cool Hollywood actor who, from a distance, has it all; wild parties inside his hipster bohemian hotel room, pole dancing twins on tap, sex with myriad beautiful women but upon closer inspection his life is absolutely empty and the things he does to fill his time do that but leave his soul, whatever that might mean, ever more hollow.  At one point Johnny is called back to the studio to be fitted for a new, old, face...the process involves Johnnys face being covered in layers of latex and then being left alone for forty minutes while it sets.  Coppola takes the camera closer and closer as Marco sits in the chair, alone and he does we are able to pick out his now blind eyes and his mouth is twisted and speechless; it is a haunting image and one that says much about Marco.  It is also a scene that perfectly captures Coppola as a film-maker...quiet, subtle and intelligent.

This empty life of Marco is blown apart when his daughter, Cleo, arrives.  Suddenly there is light, hope, genuine emotion and honesty where before there was only darkness, hopelessness, phoneyism (it's not a real word, I know, I'm a terrible writer) and lies.  She offers Johnny redemption, she is the escape hatch from the locked basement of his life.  She breathes life into him where before he had been a hollow carcass.  Everyone should have a Cleo!

There is nothing as obvious as a plot or a story here, instead Coppola presents...she presents us with a window into two lives that, one imagines, she is all too familiar with.  As the daughter of Hollywood royalty and as a "star" in her own right she is perfectly placed to show both Johnny and Cleo.

Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning would both, in a perfect world, win Oscars for their performances here. Dorff reminds everyone that he is an actor and not a "bad boy" or "pretty face" and Fanning shows that her sister may not be the first Fanning to win a little gold man after all.  Both are totally convincing throughout and the bond between them seems absolutely real.  With Dorff playing a Peter Pan figure who only really has to worry about the next party and the next role Fanning plays Wendy by caring for him and forcing him to accept some responsibility.

There will be people who will find nothing to praise in "Somewhere"; they will complain about the minimal script, the lack of "action" of any sort but that is to miss the point completely.  Coppola is, it would appear, happy for the likes of Bigelow to play with the boys...she will just get on with creating and crafting films that have meaning.

So there.

No comments:

Post a Comment