Critic's Pick: Somewhere

In a Chateau Marmont hotel room, two boring, identical blondes pole dance side-by-side like a pair of airborne synchronized swimmers to a bland Foo Fighters track. Their patron is Johnny Marco — also blond and bored.

Who is Johnny Marco? He’s a man so blank, despite his many tattoos, that he could only be an actor. He enjoys drinking, smoking, balling, and owning a Lamborghini — if only to pass the time. To the observer, however, these activities only heighten his desperate ennui. His friends and lovers are of the single-serving variety, but that’s what happens when you fall asleep with your face between a woman’s legs.

Still, Somewhere’s central character reads as sensitive — maybe even simple — and despite a career of steady gigs, 37-year-old actor Stephen Dorff is somehow unfamiliar enough to slip into the character of Marco. Holed up in West Hollywood — where the sky is so blue it’s white — recovering, presumably, from an injury and a role, the actor is visited by his daughter Cleo (the luminous and understated Elle Fanning). As the most interesting thing about him, Cleo possesses many enriching interests, among them cooking and ice-skating. As Marco claps at his daughter’s skating performance, much in the same way he benignly cheers the Doublemint dancers, it becomes sweetly, perversely evident that the company of the latter is really about missing the former.

Somewhere is Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature-length film, and it shares atmospheric and aesthetic sensibilities with her second, Lost in Translation. You might file them under “lifestyles of the bored and famous,” a brand at which Ms. Coppola excels. Superficially, the narratives share hotel settings, actor characters, and (to oversimplify) father-daughter relationships. They are also united by the authentic and contemporary sense of place achieved via stolen-looking footage; sparse, naturalistic dialogue; and by the way Coppola’s camera often just sits and stares at her players, emphasizing the particulars of their queer and disconnected worlds.

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