Remember the "lip my stocking!" sequence in Lost in Translation? Imagine that embarrassing exchange extended to roughly 90 minutes, and you'd get something close to Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, an elliptical companion piece that once again portrays celebrity as the ultimate dissociative state. For truly, what is the Chateau Marmont if not the world's most luxurious purgatory, one in which Keanu-esque movie star Johnny Marco (Dorff) finds himself trapped like a Beckett character. (He can check out any time he likes, but he can never leave.) Twin blonds pole-dancing to a Foo Fighters' tune, so-what sexual encounters, chirpy publicists and idiotic journalists; such banalities and indignities the famous face!
Familiarity, as well as a boo-hoo fixation on the aimless and privileged, breeds contempt here; even without the movie's direct reprises of Translation scenes, you'll still feel you've toured this particular version of Hell-Ay before. But if Somewhere says nothing new about showbiz superficiality or Angeleno ennui, the movie does impressively replicate the rhythms of its drifting, driving-in-circles protagonist and reveals a core sweetness once Johnny's 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Fanning), comes into the picture. Semiautobiographical or not, their ambling hangout scenes underscore that no working director understands how prepubescent girls view the world (and their fathers) better than Coppola. The climactic scene between Fanning and Dorff, in which a perk of success drowns out his goodbye, couldn't be more poignant---just as the 15 minutes that follow it couldn't be more facile or enraging. That's when Somewhere's pity party truly goes bust, and the difference between a movie about emptiness and an empty movie becomes abundantly clear.
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See also Going Somewhere with Sofia Coppola