A whole lot of nothing!
The H-Bomb: Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is an A-list movie star living the Hollywood Bad Boy life; boozing, partying, women, so on and so forth. Basically, all the drinking, all the drugging, all the screwing are supposed too compensate for the fact that, despite being filthy rich and successful, his life is pretty damn boring (just so you know, the word “boring” and its various synonyms are going to appear frequently in this review). It’s all Johnny’s way of filling the utter emptiness of his existence. That’s not to say his life isn’t without its little pleasures; he’s treated to a show by a couple of pole dancing stripper twins, which he falls asleep during, he’s receiving obscene text messages from an unknown sender, he’s asked stupid questions by idiot journalists with strange accents in a press conference, and he gives absolutely worthless advice to aspiring actors.
If I had his life, I’d probably bomb myself into a perpetual stupor, as well. Oh, but there is a bright spot through Johnny’s chemically induced haze: his lovely little daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), who is dropped on his doorstep at the famed Chateau Marmont hotel one day out of the blue. The mother explains to him that she has to go off to parts unknown for reasons unknown, and she charges Johnny with the crucial task of getting Cleo to summer camp by a certain date. Failure to do so could bring about catastrophic consequences that could unravel the space-time continuum and destroy existence as we know it! Actually, none of that would happen (God forbid that would make this movie interesting, if illogical), but she does have to get to camp by a certain date.
So, stuck with the kid for a few weeks, Johnny hauls her around on all his various exploits of nothingness. To Italy, to Vegas, and all over L.A. We sense that he doesn’t really know his daughter, and that this is the first time he’s spending any real time with her. So, we get treated to the pleasure of seeing them bond by doing a whole lot of nothing together… like eat ice cream in bed while watching “Friends”, or playing “Guitar Hero”, or sunbathing, amongst many, many other edge-of-your-seat activities. And it’s during all these thrilling non-adventures that they bond in a significant way… I guess, and Johnny learns a valuable life lesson about . . . something . . . or . . . nothing. I’m leaning towards the latter.
I really would love to discuss more of the plot, except there isn’t any more to discuss. Sofia Coppola’s fourth film, “Somewhere”, is the latest addition to that ever growing sub-genre of indie film, the “Nothing Happens” genre. Standing alongside such gems as “The Brown Bunny” and that Jim Jarmusch snoozer “The Limits of Control”, “Somewhere” continues in that same stylistic vein of long, static shots with seemingly endless scenes of characters doing little-to-nothing in them. And I am speaking very literally, folks. Every single scene in the film either has Johnny and Cleo doing nothing, or doing something so fucking mundane that it’s really not worth mentioning or watching . . . for that matter.
At the least “The Brown Bunny” rewarded us at the end with Chloe Sevigny sucking off Vincent Gallo. With “Somewhere”, we don’t get anything even remotely that interesting or memorable. The only scene that I would qualify as notable, and I am reaching here, is the one involving Johnny and a naked male masseuse. The only reason I remembered that was because it’s the one quasi-entertaining scene in the entire film. That aside, Princess Coppola’s newest opus is one in which nothing happens, then more nothing happens, then even more nothing happens, and then, mercifully, after 90-plus minutes, it ends. This kind of minimalist style can work sometimes, “Elephant” and “Blow Up” spring to mind, but in an instance like this, where there is no compelling story, no emotion, and no drama of any kind, then it just makes for one excruciatingly DULL movie. It was duller than a butter knife in Al Gore’s drawers.
[Swift thought: while editing this paragraph, "The Simpsons- The D'oh-cial Network" JUST burned on Princess Coppola for making movies where nothing happens!]
I’ve been writing for iRATEfilms since mid-2009, and in that time, I have sat through some genuine shitbags, but I have to say, with all sincerity, this is the worst movie I have ever reviewed for this site. I shit thee not, dear readers, I would not say it if I didn’t mean it, it is the absolute WORST, period. I loathed it. Despised it. If the DVD weren’t a rental copy, I would smash it to pieces and fucking burn it! Holy Hell, when crap like “My Soul to Take” and the pisss poor “Hisss” look good by comparison, something is really, truly wrong. At least those movies tried to tell stories. They failed miserably, but they at least tried to have actual characters taking part in an actual plot, with an actual beginning, middle, and end. “Somewhere” doesn’t even attempt any of that. It is cinematic vapor. It’s like an entire movie made up of outtakes . . . outtakes that go on for eternity and aren’t even remotely amusing. And that it was brought to me by an Academy Award Winning Filmmaker makes it all the more infuriating. Jennifer Chambers Lynch, you are off the hook, there is a new nepotistic Daddy’s Girl director at the top of my shit list now.
Some of the apologists for this empty void of nada masquerading as a movie will argue that it’s a thoughtful (sigh), existential (eye roll) tone poem (face palm) about the life of a man burned out by the meaninglessness of his fast n’ hard lifestyle, and that it’s his relationship with his daughter that brings him true happiness and redemption. Okay, that’s all well and good, except it’s presented in such a way that it isn’t at all touching or moving. For Christ’s sake, the movie doesn’t move! Maybe if Princess Coppola actually bothered to write a script, instead of just turning the camera on and telling the actors to do whatever, she possibly might have had something. Sadly, she went the lazy route instead. “But it won Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival!” Well, to that I have two questions, what the hell movie did they watch, and haven’t the learned to stop sampling the water whilst on those over-priced gondolas? Did Daddy Coppola have Nitrous Oxide leaked into the theater during that screening?
The damnable thing of it is, I am a fan of Princess Coppola as a director. “The Virgin Suicides” was near brilliant, and “Lost in Translation” was one of the best films of the last decade (though I must confess, “Marie Antoinette” looked so fucking awful from the trailers I never bothered with it). So, as a fan of hers, I wanted to see “Somewhere” and I went in expecting to like it, but . . . as I think I clearly stated, I didn’t! She took the understated style and tone she established with “Lost in Translation” and amplified it to a point where it rendered the movie inert, lifeless, and… did I mention boring, already?
It is a stupefyingly pretentious, astonishingly over-indulgent waste of time. In fact, it’s worse, it’s a waste of a waste of time, made by one of the most spoiled brats in all of Hollywood, and Daddy Coppola should give that brat a good spanking, send her to her room, and not let her out until she remembers how to make a good movie again. “Somewhere” is a film that goes absolutely nowhere, and it would be smart of you to go nowhere near it!