The opening scene of Sofia Coppola's Somewhere shows a Ferrari driving in circles on a dirt track, going around and around and around.
And around and around and around.
Nothing else happens.
This scene pretty much sums the entire movie: long, drawn out shots where nothing really happens.
Somewhere follows a famous movie star Johnny Marco (Steven Dorff) who is living in Hollywood's famous Chateau Marmont hotel.
When his young daughter (played by the charming Elle Fanning) is unexpectedly dropped off for an extended visit, she infuses Johnny's life with some meaning, and he begins to rethink the life he's been leading.
Coppola's fourth feature, which she also wrote, is her first L.A.-centric film. Written while she was in living in Paris after shooting Marie Antoinette, it is also the first script in which she tackles the theme of parenting, having just had her first child at the time.
When we first meet Johnny, he is bored, despite being a movie star busy promoting a film, getting ready to shoot another, having parties in his hotel room and sex with random girls at the Marmont. Even the identical twin pole dancers (Playboy models Kristina and Karissa Shannon) in ridiculously skimpy outfits fail to excite him.
Unfortunately, none of it really excites the audience as well.
Coppola stages long shots that just keep going and going, while the audience hangs in, thinking something is bound to happen. It doesn't.
Even when Cleo arrives, things don't perk up much. When Johnny takes her to skating practice, the audience is forced to watch her entire routine, thinking something exciting will happen within it - a fall, an interruption or some sort - but it doesn't. Cleo's skating is never mentioned again, those skating skills don't come in handy with anything later. If it was cut from the film, no one would miss it.
It's these types of introduction to scenes that never pay off that end up being the most frustrating for the viewers. Johnny is constantly referring to the fact that there is someone following him, and he's gets harassing texts from an unknown number throughout the duration of the movie. The stage is set for potential mystery and intrigue that's never taken advantage of. Johnny never does anything about the texts. He just receives them. That's it.
While this may annoy the viewer, Coppola never intended these things to further the story. The filmmaker, who grew up watching fame and celebrity all around her, purposely flips it on it's head here by showing how lonely, meaningless and boring it is when the flashing lights and fans are gone. The long shorts are meant to convey Johnny's boredom; the text messages symbolize Johnny's subconscious views of himself. Him being followed could very well be his own paranoia rather than reality.
By showing us how boring and dull it all is, Coppola has inadvertently made a boring and dull film. Considering she was granted unprecedented access to shoot at the actual Chateau Marmont hotel, the final result feels even more disappointing.
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