Somewhere ★★

The beauty of slow cinema lies in its ability to transcend the minutiae and monotony of everyday life, to present the dull as something beautiful and foreign. The commonplace, so often brushed over and catalogued in our personal lives, finds itself given new, human breath by the lingering stare of the camera. Watching a sports car whizz in and out of frame on a loop becomes a powerful metaphor for the track the driver may be on in life. A slow zoom from a father and a daughter at a pool shows us that they are an island, steadfast against the churning life around them. The stripped back cinematography of slow cinema rips away the artificial and asks us to search for the profound and the unspoken in the banal. In finding new meaning in the work, we find new meaning in ourselves.

But despite its outward simplicity, there’s an unspoken alchemy to it all, a magic that has to rush underneath the surface of every scene, some unquantifiable something, a deeper intention. The puzzle pieces may fit together formally, but without a true connection to the characters the work will always be hamstrung. This is where, Somewhere sadly stumbles. Johnny never quite “appears” in any meaningful way, both in his own life and in our minds. It’s a radical choice, and I think an intentional one (Coppola undoubtedly has the touch of master here) but one that unfortunately can’t justify itself I think, at least in part, due to a stiff performance by Stephen Dorff. Its strongest moments are ones rooted in a rock-solid Elle Fanning, who really serves as the heart of the movie. 

The highlights, and the formal elements, are here in a real way: Johnny’s mysterious hate texts as an externalization of his self loathing, his feeble apology to his daughter over the roaring snicker of helicopter blades, among other moments… but I never quite connected to this shell of a person like I wanted to.

101 N/5