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Somewhere Inbetween

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Oh the desolate plight of the beautiful and damned!  Somewhere, the latest offering from director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides), is the tale of a laze-about movie star (Stephen Dorff) living the high life at West Hollywood’s infamous Chateau Marmont when his daughter (Elle Fanning) is unexpectedly thrust into his care.   An exercise in quiet introspection, what unfolds is a lingering gaze at the alienation and emptiness awaiting climbers at the top of Mount Celebrity.

As with all of Coppola’s films, Somewhere is visually and sonically gorgeous.  Though more understated than some of her previous films, the soundtrack (featuring the likes of Phoenix, The Strokes, and Bryan Ferry) remains a big star.  Never overbearing, it’s another demonstration of Coppola’s expertise for deploying pop music that genuinely augments drama rather than just applying marketable gloss.

Cinematically, the film is beautifully symmetrical.  From the Rorschach mirroring of key scenes, to long close-ups and pull-aways framed with Kubric-esque precision, visual metaphor oozes through the film.

Despite Coppola’s stylistic virtuosity however, Dorff and Fanning are faced with the burden of driving a film that drifts from scene to scene without any great sense of propulsion.  Where Lost in Translation’s key relationship managed this hurdle (owing to it’s complex mixture of paternalism, sexual attraction and shared loneliness), the father-daughter dynamic at Somewhere’s emotional core is slightly too superficial to pull the same trick twice.  As a result, for all its beauty, the film can’t escape feeling flat.  This may have been Coppola’s ultimate intended message (for this is a rumination on the contradictions of fame), but its one-dimensional nature makes for a somewhat disengaged audience experience.

In the end, Somewhere suffers from it’s own key dilemma: the dissatisfaction of style over substance.  Though still enjoyable, Somewhere is more of an interesting B-side than a hit single.

Somewhere is in cinemas Dec 26


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