With three feature films under her fashionably slim belt, Sofia Coppola tackles a personal and poignant story, revolving around a hotel and a father/daughter relationship. Burnt-out, decadent action star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) lives at Hollywood’s fabled Chateau Marmont. Catering to upscale hipsters, it’s known as the no-tell hotel.
Built in 1929, modeled after Chateau Amboise in France’s Loire Valley, it’s where John Belushi overdosed on cocaine, Benico Del Toro had sex with Scarlett Johansson in an elevator, and Jim Morrison said he used up the “eighth of his nine lives” shimming down a drainpipe from the roof into the window of his room.
As it begins, chronically depressed, perpetually stoned Johnny is sprawled on the bed, listlessly watching identical strippers pole-dance for his amusement. When he falls asleep during their routine, the twins casually gather their equipment and depart. Then, one day, Johnny’s 11 year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) is dumped on his doorstep, as his exasperated ex-wife telephones instructions to drop her off at summer camp. In the interim, they spend time together, and Johnny gradually learns what it means to be
accountable for somebody else.
After playing the so-called fifth Beatle in “Backbeat,” an evil vampire kingpin in “Blade, and transsexual Candy Darling in “I Shot Andy Warhol,” Stephen Dorff superbly underplays Johnny, while coltish Elle Fanning enchants.
Despite its Golden Lion Award for Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival (where her ex-boyfriend Quentin Tarantino headed the jury), on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Somewhere” goes nowhere with an atmospheric 5. It’s an oblique, low-key, melancholy rumination on adult responsibility.