Every now and then, I find myself thinking about what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson in the pinnacle scene of “Lost in Translation.” Or why the Lisbon sisters were so determined to off themselves in “The Virgin Suicides.” This is because director Sofia Coppola makes incredible movies about alienation and what gets people through it—be it Americans living in Japan, sisters in 1970s Detroit, or Marie Antoinette who has to leave her friends and family behind to marry the future King of France. And Sofia’s newest flick, “Somewhere,” sounds like it is very much in the same vein. It stars Stephen Dorff (yumz) as a Hollywood megastar living at the Chateau Marmont who is totally disenchanted with life until he gets custody of his 11-year-old daughter (played by Dakota’s little sister, Elle Fanning). So I guess I’m not shocked that on Saturday, “Somewhere” won the Venice Film Festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion.Meanwhile, Variety said, “Sofia Coppola’s ‘Somewhere’ is a quiet heartbreaker. Trading ‘Lost in Translation’s’ Tokyo hotel for Beverly Hills’ Chateau Marmont, the ever-perceptive writer-director further hones her gifts for ruefully funny observation and understated melancholy with this low-key portrait of a burned-out screen actor.” And the London Independent wrote, “Coppola’s achievement is to have made an affecting and quietly funny film about such an unsympathetic character. Somehow, she makes us care about the existential angst of a pampered celebrity living a deeply superficial life.” [Variety, Independent UK]
So where did the inspiration for this story come from? It’s the first script Sofia wrote after having her first baby, which explains the parenthood theme. As for the sense of alienation? “I spent a lot of time growing up, living in hotels when I was on location with my dad,” she has said. “A hotel is a world in itself and the people who stay there are always interesting, so I like hotels for settings. Also it’s an impermanent place and people I am interested in are in a moment of transition.”
She decided to have Dorff go method on this one—she apparently asked him to stay at the Chateau and not go home during the making of the film.
Dorff was more than happy to comply. He says that the role was “the perfect character at the perfect time.” He elaborates, “The thing that felt very real was the isolation that happens to an actor when a film is finished. On this film, for example … it made me really sad when the movie ended. For me, I don’t go to an office every day, so I’m kind of left with not knowing what I’m going to do until the next movie arrives. So I was able to tap into some of that emotion.” [Guardian UK]
The flick also has an awesome Phoenix soundtrack, since Sofia and frontman Thomas Mars are the cutest couple ever.
Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to this one opening in theaters!