It’s rather obvious what Somewhere is going for. The out of touch actor, unfulfilled by his career. I assume it’s a feeling many of those who have reached the top may feel. Coasting through their life as personal problems overwhelm them. A story that obsesses over the futility of fame, one that connects with the idea that making it big isn’t the dream everyone was hoping it would be. There’s much room for musings on such topics throughout Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, but the narrative complexities and performances don’t do the subject justice. What we receive instead is a rather drab attempt at capturing some of the more interesting topics that are brushed over occasionally throughout.
Following a Hollywood actor who has fallen out of love with the industry and finds himself residing in a hotel, Somewhere brings audiences together with Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff). I wish the film didn’t do that, because for the ninety minutes we spend with Marco, it’s clear that the man is the most punchable being in existence. He croons and slides his way through corridors and rooms, unresponsive, heading through life on auto-pilot. That much is great for build-up, but it lasts for more or less the entire film, with no change in sight outside of a few faux narrative twists that involve supporting performers.
Dorff is put through the wringer with expectedly bland fashion. He’s bored of his fast cars, his playboy and party lifestyle. His ability to conjure anything he needs up on a whim is tiring for him. Bless him, it’s really hard to feel sorry for him as he mopes about swanky hotel rooms and somewhat healthy, but slightly hostile relationships with his ex-wife and those around him. Having everything handed to him on a silver platter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it’s difficult to really connect with the character whatsoever. Not just because he has no likeable qualities or interesting growth, but also because it’s just not an interesting performance.
A surprise visit from his daughter, played by Elle Fanning, sees a somewhat trivial change in pace to the rest of the film. Fanning is solid for the few scenes she can really stand out, most of the time being dwarfed by Dorff’s inarticulate and feeble performance. Still, the two have some bearable chemistry with one another, so it’s not all bad. Chris Pontius shows up for a few scenes too, and I’m still bemused and puzzled as to why he was featured at all.
Somewhere takes an interesting concept nowhere at all. It’s relatively short and to the point, but such a style doesn’t fit when the man we’re expected to feel sorry for is a bit of a jerk. There’s no real reason to care for him, or any of the characters for that matter. Struggling under the weight of such an unfinished, structureless plot, Coppola flounders around with some articulate camerawork, leaving Somewhere feeling like a loosely connected piece with some relatively engaging composition.