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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful meditation on loneliness and loveFeb. 5 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Somewhere is a beautiful meditative film about Johnny Marco (played by Stephen Dorff), a lonely, bored, dissolute Hollywood star who, by spending time with his daughter, Cleo (played by Elle Fanning) learns to love again. Elle Fanning is absolutely delightful in the role -- she is so sweet, natural, and at times, charmingly awkward. Her youth and unpretentious beauty are an effective foil to Stephen Dorff's character, who parties hard on a regular basis and looks it. Johnny is in a state of existential ennui; he lacks emotional connection with others and lives a life of instant gratification that is devoid of meaning. When Cleo's mother leaves Cleo with Johnny for an extended period of time, it gives him the chance to renew his relationship with her and thaw his heart. By learning to love Cleo, Johnny is forced to face the emptiness in his life and decides to change.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Don't pass this byAug. 24 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
From my blog: [...]
There's beauty in the way Sofia Coppola's Somewhere unfolds. Its performances are brilliantly understated yet nuanced, its dialogue is natural and witty and Coppola's patient direction always seems to make the right choices. The film is mostly subdued as its cadence is relaxing and never rushed. This is wonderfully illustrated in a scene in which the film's main subject Hollywood star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) sits, calmly breathes through his nose and waits for a special effects mold covering his entire face to dry. It's incredibly serene as it's such a departure from Johnny's life.
Coppola's first great move was the casting of Dorff as Johnny, the 30-something, black Ferrari-driving movie star who lives at the Chateau Marmont in his own La Dolce Vita--a life of booze, pills and readily available floozies (not the only subconscious homage to Fellini's film). This is key as we don't already attribute this lifestyle to Dorff, because frankly we're not familiar with his career and he doesn't seem to be in the tabloids much. Casting an A-list star would've resulted in a much different tone and possibly made the Johnny Marco character a caricature of another famous celebrity. This makes him more believable.
Johnny merely seems to be going through the motions of this rock star lifestyle and often looks bored (He falls asleep to the Shannon twins pole dancing in his hotel room!) and without a purpose. His drinking is frequent and his relationships with women are hollow and vapid--in fact, the only woman he can confide in is his ex-wife. Despite this we feel for Johnny because he is easy-going, likeable and generally good to people. Moreover, he's chivalrous around his ex-wife and a decent father when he is around his daughter.
Elle Fanning's performance as Johnny's bright and well-behaved 11-year old daughter Cleo is very natural and quite believable. I applaud Coppola for not overwriting her character and making her overly precocious or resentful of her father. Instead, she loves her father and just wants to spend more time with him. Fanning's best scenes are when she's reacting to something or the expressions on her face when she's hanging out with her father.
Consider the scene at the breakfast table in an Italian hotel when an ex-flame of Johnny's is speaking and the camera pans to Cleo giving her father a look that says "I want to spend time with you, not some strange lady!" The beauty in this is the respect Coppola shows for her audience. A look is enough to convey Cleo's thoughts so why use dialogue then cut to a drawn-out temper tantrum scene in the next scene? The audience is smart.
Despite the extravagances around Johnny, the time he spends with Cleo is in doing normal things that mean the world to Cleo. Somewhere really sparkles when Johnny must take care of Cleo for an extended time because her mother had to go away without explanation. He takes her to the ice skating rink, they play Guitar Hero together, they go swimming, she cooks breakfast for him, etc. The rhythm of scenes is just right as Coppola always seems to know when to let a scene breathe and when to cut. Thankfully, she doesn't cut during the film's best scene--a sublime poolside zoom-out at the Chateau Marmont. There's no dialogue, just the right music and the building realization of Johnny's purpose.
My fear with Somewhere is it will not be seen by nearly enough people--at least initially. This is mainly because the film doesn't have a huge star in any of its leads and Coppola's direction, while excellent, unfortunately doesn't appeal to the casual movie-goer accustomed to editing tailored for those with short attention spans. Those with patience will find much to admire in Somewhere and much to smile about as it may just be the best film they see this year.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Not quite over the rainbow...March 24 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Being the fan of Sophia Coppola that I am, `Somewhere' was my most anticipated film from last year. I literally could not wait to see it, so much so that I downloaded it to my computer months before it was released in theaters near me so that I could watch it.
For me, `Somewhere' doesn't quite live up to my expectations.
First things first, this is not a bad film at all. In fact, it is a very good film. Some of my friends have noted that they feel this is Coppola's most mature offering, and in many ways I totally agree. She has a beautiful knack for fleshing out the humanity in her stories with such graceful subtlety. She masters that here, allowing the fluid movement of the scenes to do most of the talking. While some would make sweeping statements that this is, `by far', we worst film, I can only half agree. While she shows definite maturity here, this is my least favorite of her films. In that same respect though, I can't say `by far' since the film is a very good film. I just found it too familiar. Coppola often regurgitates similar themes in her films, but she manages to make them feel fresh and unique to her own style. She doesn't quite manage that here. It drips with style (it is beautiful to look at and it moves with the grace and fluidity that we expect from Coppola) but it feels too rehashed to be anything monumentally moving. It felt like 'Lost in Translation' lite. I really liked it, and the performances are beautifully detailed, but the film itself reaches short of the greatness I was expecting.
The idea of being lost within your own life and trying to find an outlet, anything really to save you from yourself, is a great idea, but Sophia has done that four times over now and it shows on this film that she is running out of ways to make it feel soulfully individualized.
This just felt somewhat halfhearted.
And yet, I can't help but admit that had `Lost in Translation' not been released on '03 I'd probably be lauding this particular film as a masterpiece and placing it at the top of my personal ballot for Best Picture last year. Like I said, it's very good, but it is also very familiar.
But, one cannot overlook the glorious Elle Fanning and her marvelous contribution to this film. In fact, I would hand her a win over ANY of Oscar's nominated supporting actresses; in a heartbeat. I'm just going to post straight from a piece I wrote about her performance on my blog back in January.
"In Sophia Coppola's latest entry, `Somewhere', she cast the `other' Fanning girl, Elle, to play a fictional variation of herself (or I assume as much). While Coppola is one of my favorite working directors, I must say that the familiar nature of `Somewhere' was a tad underwhelming for me. That said; the naturally organic presence of Elle Fanning utterly blew me away. By merely doing nothing at all, Fanning does SO much with this character. Playing Cleo, the young daughter to Hollywood megastar Johnny Marco, Fanning isn't discomfited by her father's world. She isn't afraid to call a spade a spade (that stare at the breakfast table was superbly executed) and yet she realizes the nature of the world in which her father dwells and so she allocates herself to it with childlike ease. The construction of a Coppola film is already wildly organic in tone (it just flows in such a sublimely effortless manner) but Fanning adds so much weight to the film by relaxing right into the pace. Her character arc may seem oddly anticlimactic (also the signature ways of the director) but there is the sting of her presence that never quite goes away. You can feel her spirit moving her father to contemplate his own footsteps, and you understand why. It is less the notion that a child can reconstruct a parent and more the understanding that THIS child is something special to THAT parent. There is such intimacy presented in this performance (as well as Dorff's).
In fact, dwelling on Fanning's performance is making me appreciate the film more than I initially thought I did."
In the end, I like this movie and I highly recommend it. Sophia Coppola is a masterful director and I cannot wait to see what she delivers to us next. She understands the beauty of the human spirit and she weaves magic out of simplicity, which is something most directors don't bother to consider. I want her to branch out on her next project though. I want to see her step outside her comfort zone and prove to the world that she isn't one-track minded. I know she has more in her. As it is, she ranks very high for me and is probably one of my top five working directors today. With a little spice she could easily become number one.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Somewhere is memorableApril 19 2011
Michael P. O'Farrell
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm not going to waste a lot of space defending this film. This is one movie that truly has people divided regarding its merits. For me, "Somewhere" was beguiling, fascinating, humorous and ultimately deeply moving. I suppose Sophia Coppola's films are an acquired taste but if so I can only state that those who are able to tune in to her work have great taste in movies. Coppola's screenplays are very spare, and this film follows that tradition. The storytelling that the director utilizes goes beyond a formal script but don't think for a minute that what is going on onscreen (or not going on, for that matter) is nothing at all. The characters here are utterly real, the emotions are genuine and the day to day, seemingly mundane, along with joyous and melancholy moments, create a specific point of view very unique to this filmmaker. "Somewhere" doesn't quite have the magic that made "Lost In Translation' so unforgettable, but it succeeds nevertheless in creating characters the viewer can care about. Stephen Dorff gives a memorable performance as a not quite middle aged movie actor whose life has reached an impasse. Holed up in Hollywood's famed Chateau Marmont between movie press engagements, Dorff as Johnny Marco seems to be deeply depressed, living day to day in nearly non-existence mode, until his young daughter (the lovely Elle Fanning) shows up. Again, I'm not going to spend a great deal of time going over plot details (I can hear now several voices asking, "What Plot?"). My recommendation is, See This Film.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
coppola knows about the reality of movie starsJan. 3 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
sophia coppola, the writer and director, is francis coppola's daughter. her cousin is nicholas cage. another cousin is jason schwartzman (Bored to Death on HBO), whose mother is talia shire (Rocky), francis's sister. sofia was married to director spike jonze. she has probably known no one but movie people her entire life. her movie is about a movie star who ,far from being a fascinating guy, is closer to being a total zero in personality. and, of course, everyone who barely knows him thinks he is fascinating. sofia coppola paints a devastating portrait of a top actor in the first half of this movie.
i found it very funny but you might miss the satire it is so low key. johnny, played by stephen dorf, is like an unmade bed walking around. he can barely be bothered to comb his hair, change his clothes or do much but passively participate. he hires twin pole dancers and falls asleep during their act. he falls asleep during sex. his costar finds him a big nothing. women text him complaining about his behavior which is mainly that he isn't following through with them. he can sit in a makeup chair for hours with everything but his nostrils covered, completely cut off from stimulation, and be fine with it. he also likes hot tubs, massages, tv shows like FRIENDS reruns and video games. when he's asked about the meaning of a movie he's been in, he draws a complete blank. when he stands next to the movie poster of himself, you would never know it is the same guy. he likes driving but most of the time he's not even going anywhere. the movie opens with him aimlessly driving back and forth in the desert. he's asked at a party if he ever studied with anyone, perhaps the method school of acting, but he says no. he just does it. it is easy and natural for him to pretend to be someone else because he seemingly has so little personality himself. i say seemingly because the whole hollywood lifestyle has put him into a deep state of hibernation. only a real person can bring him out of it and that person is his daughter, played by Elle Fanning who does a fantastic job in the role.
the one thing that causes him to finally exhibit some liveliness is his daughter's mother takes off and his daughter has to stay with him. he starts to come out of hibernation with her because she is a real person. It is startling to realize that all the other people hanging around these places are hangers on, call girls or guys, wannabes, and so forth. the more intelligent end of the movie business (writing, directing) is absent from these places. his daughter is self reliant. she can cook. she can shop in a regular store. she dresses like a real person. she likes to swim in the pools. she keeps a journal. she uses a computer. she is going to camp shortly. she reads. she is eleven. she is real. no one else hanging around him is this self reliant and they are all adults! after seeing this, i think anyone stuck in this life should marry the most intelligent, life loving person he or she can as a spouse and probably start having a fairly large family. that is as normal as life will probably ever be. oh, and get a hobby. anything. stamp collecting will do! such a person needs a home a lot more than call girls.
and that's where the title comes from. he is nowhere. he has no real place. he needs to be somewhere real.
i notice here at amazon that others are scoring it really low for the most part. i think it is because it seems boring and slow when they expected to see a movie about a glamorous movie star. well, that is her point. THIS is the way it really is and it can be a real shock to discover that these people lead even more vacuous lives than we expected them to lead.
oh, welcome back to stephen dorf, our lead character, who took a short detour into a tv series, Law & Order LA. i'm glad he's back in film.
Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.