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Somewhere (2010)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

Somewhere didn’t stay long at the theaters. That’s too bad, but it’s understandable. For many among us, a film must grab us and take us away; not so many know how to engage in the slow ride of taking in a brief space in a life, observing the way a life — possibly our own lives — can be shaped by the significant and the insignificant, by intentional choice and chance occurrence, by our own ability (or lack of it) to simply pay attention. Somewhere is such a time, a patiently and lovingly delivered observation and meditation by Sofia Coppola.

We’ve seen self-destructive people before, and the things that mess up their lives are usually clear. We often see such things in others around us. It’s a tale often told in film, so it’s easy to tune out when we hear the tale again. But there’s the other side to it: We’re not so likely to see it when we’re the ones messing up our own lives. So when we tune the film out, we miss out again on a chance to observe, to look closer, and maybe start to find reflections of ourselves, even in characters that are not so much like us. If we enter into it, Somewhere can help us slow down and see more. Can we feel the movement of life? How much do we see — really see — of what goes on around us and in us? What if we could go with the flow of life as it unfolds before us? If, for 97 minutes, we might give up our couch potato demand to be passively entertained and instead actively pay attention to this carefully crafted film, it might help us to pay attention more closely in life. What . . . who might we learn to appreciate and love more?

In its filmcraft, Somewhere beautifully lingers on moments and speaks without words. For example, the film opens with Johnny racing his Ferrari, alone, four times around a desert circle track, and most of the time the car is out of the frame and we are looking only at the desert. In this and similar ways, the film challenges the Hitchcock aphorism that “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” Viewers of short attention span might say that Somewhere is dull in places, but I would strongly differ. The thing is, Coppola shows us a life influenced more by myriad small moments of beauty and pain than by big plot twists. She shows us the well-placed metaphors and warning signs that dot our lives — if we’re paying enough attention to catch them. The film is well worth every pensive, quiet moment it delivers.

You may not like Johnny Marco, but like many movie stars, lots of people do seem to like him — even when he plays the bad boy, which is most of the time. A drunken fall down the stairs slows him down, but not really. Then he starts getting anonymous “you’re a jerk” text messages. And he starts to notice he’s alone a lot. And he realizes how little he knows about his daughter. Maybe he’ll start to wake up. . . . Never mind if it sounds like a familiar story, with this one, it’s the way Coppola tells it that makes the real story. Running time: 97 min.

Johnny Marco’s main bad boy way is being loose with the girls. This surfaces thematically, in erotic dancing, in a couple of non-graphic sexual scenes, and in brief nudity. Johnny drinks heavily and smokes, and there’s some language (including in text messages that are shown on screen).

  • Director: Sofia Coppola
  • Screenplay: Sofia Coppola
  • Leads: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning
  • Cinematography: Harris Savides
  • Music: Phoenix


NOTE: Although Before viewing talks don't have spoilers, comments below MAY have spoilers
(spoilers are allowed in comments when a Before viewing talk does not have a corresponding After viewing talk for discussing the film)

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