American Zoetrope

Review in a Hurry: Sofia Coppola gives us yet another movie about rich people lounging around opulent surroundings while feeling empty inside. This time, it's Stephen Dorff as movie star Johnny Marco, staying mostly in Hollywood's famed Chateau Marmont. As unsympathetic as her characters ought to be, though, damned if the writer-director doesn't manage to hit on some emotional truths nonetheless.

The Bigger Picture: Somewhere opens with a car driving around in circles: a metaphor for what is to come, yes, but also a reminder of the similar opening scene in Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, which likewise meanders around before making its points about loneliness.

Long takes follow of Johnny Marco drinking and smoking, staring at in-room twin strippers, reading anonymous text messages that insult him, attending a press junket where everyone is stupid and annoying and watching 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) ice skate to the entirety of Gwen Stefani's "Cool." Coppola has always been minimalist with her plots, but this one makes Lost in Translation look like Inception.

Then Cleo's mother calls to say she's taking off for a while and has to leave her with Johnny for more than a mere day-visit. Proceed to scenes of Cleo cooking for dad and playing video games with his friend (or is it his brother?) Sammy (Jackass' party boy, Chris Pontius, in an odd but satisfying dramatic role). He takes her on a press trip to Italy. They eat ice cream, and she explains the plot of Twilight to him.

Eventually, it occurs to him that banging random hot women and getting drunk just isn't as awesome as family time. You probably saw that one coming, but this isn't a movie about story beats. Rather, it's about capturing an atmosphere, and while few of us know what it's actually like to be a famous celebrity holed up in a fancy hotel being angsty, I can believe that it's just like this—and even feel for the guy in spite of myself.

If you're prepared to go with its dreamy mood, this is nowhere near as boring as it probably sounds. But neither is it likely to be massively compelling to the casual filmgoer.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The very last scene is terrible, a cinematic crutch way out of place that reeks of phony dramatic device. In a movie that generally eschews such things, it's a significant minus.

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