As the dust settled after the Fargo Film Festival that took place at the Fargo Theatre, I went to take a look at one of the independent films screening at the historic theater downtown.
The film I experienced was “Somewhere,” written and directed by Sofia Coppola who also helmed the 2003 film “Lost in Translation.” “Somewhere” seemed to be technically sound, but unfortunately, is flawed underneath.
“Somewhere” follows the story of Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a B-list actor who seems to be living day to day without any real direction. When he’s not at work he’s driving around in his sports car or partying. The only real escape Johnny has from this life is his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), who he gets to see now and then. However, when Cleo’s mother has to leave for an unknown amount of time, Johnny is forced to take Cleo for longer than usual.
Unfortunately, Coppola was not able to create a very interesting story like she was able to in “Lost in Translation.” The problem with “Somewhere” is that its story never has any real conflict going on. In most films where a parent has to take more responsibilities with a child, the conflict is usually the parent having to build or rebuild trust with that child.
However in this film that doesn’t really exist; Cleo and Johnny have a good relationship. Meanwhile, even the plot about how Johnny parties too much is a bit underplayed.
This really leads to the film being rather dull. It seemed like throughout the entire film I was waiting for the story to begin but it doesn’t. It’s just one scene after another that doesn’t really build to anything.
It is still like this when Johnny takes over watching over Cleo; nothing major happens to get the audience invested in these characters. Now the purpose of the film was mainly just to show how empty one’s life can be, but even that point just took too long to develop.
The one thing that really works for this movie though is the father-daughter relationship between Johnny and Cleo. It is very believable and it seemed that Dorff and Fanning had good onscreen chemistry while filming. There are many charming moments between the two, especially in the second half of the film. This does help to make the movie go by better.
Steven Dorff, did all right in the role he was given. He didn’t have much dialogue but his subtle performance was fairly likable. I didn’t really feel that the film fully gave us a good look into what goes through his character’s mind, though, despite the whole story revolving around mostly him.
Elle Fanning did do an amazing job, having already been in a big budget Academy Award film, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” she felt really natural in the role. I felt that she really has a future like her older sister, Dakota Fanning, and I look forward to seeing her in this year’s upcoming film, “Super 8.”
Technically, the movie is solid. Coppola is knowledgeable behind the camera and does have some good moments. However, there are many times when she holds a shot way too long. The opening shot of the film holds for nearly three minutes; it overstayed its welcome in a way. Not that these shots are bad, they just go on more than they needed to. The score is also OK. It wasn’t perfect, but it had its moments.
“Somewhere” fairly average, especially since the story isn’t really that compelling. These moments between the two lead character could have worked as a short film, though. The two character certainly are charming enough. Overall, though, the movie is a bit forgettable. 2 out of 5.
This review was first published in Minnesota State University’s student blog Doing it Downtown, covering the downtown areas of Moorhead, Minn. and Fargo, N.D.