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Quite slow but steady

The controversial winner of the top prize at last year's Venice film festival, Sophia Coppola's fourth feature is an arty, at times tiresome, examination of the perils and pitfalls of fame. Rashid Irani reports.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2011 02:08 IST
Rashid Irani

The controversial winner of the top prize at last year's Venice film festival, Sophia Coppola's fourth feature is an arty, at times tiresome, examination of the perils and pitfalls of fame.

Plot-wise, Somewhere is very slight. An A-list action star (Dorff) is in the throes of a personal crisis. While nursing a broken wrist, he spends his days in a haze of booze, women and fast cars. Like most celebrities he has no friends, only fawning fans.


Not surprisingly, the jaded actor yearns for one iota of purpose and connection in order to alleviate his own creeping ennui.

Enter his pre-teen daughter (accomplished child actress Fanning, younger sister of Dakota) from a broken-down marriage.

As they gradually build a bond, her dad's life takes a dramatic turn.

Utilising an understated style, the writer-director daughter of Francis Ford Coppola shifts tone between whirlwind activity (a visit to Italy for a TV awards ceremony) and subdued moments (a claustrophobic make- up mask molding session at the studio).

She also expertly conjures the anomie-infused Los Angeles environment.

Inevitably, one can infer semi-autobiographical echoes from the director's own life. However, the relationship between privilege and superficiality could have been conveyed more incisively.

On the other hand, the performances are pitch-perfect. Stephen Dorff brings an appropriate undercurrent of melancholy to his role. Academy-Award winning Benicio Del Toro appears in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo in a lift scene.

The peppy background music is by the renowned French alternative rock band Phoenix.

From its startling opening scene of a sports car circling around a test track in the desert, to its ambivalent denouement, Somewhere makes for fairly rewarding viewing, never mind the occasional longuers.