Stephen! Stephen! Viewers want to know: Why did you do this?

Theatrical Release Date: 01/07/2011 (San Diego)
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius


Dear Diary: Would Dakota have agreed to this role?

What’s better that one stripper? Well, twins of course! Grinding on makeshift poles in a hotel room for Stephen Dorff while “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters blares from a boombox no less.

What also works in writer/director Sofia Coppola’s latest film, “Somewhere”, is … well, nothing really. Even watching beautiful twins writhe luridly on-screen a second time becomes tedious in this amazing test of one’s ability to handle boredom.

The film opens to a static camera shot of a black Ferarri driving laps for no apparent reason. After a few minutes of nothing else happening, Stephen Dorff gets out. End scene. Wow. That was useful and informed the audience as to his state of mind. Oh wait, it didn’t.

Pretty much every other scene afterwards follows this same formula. Dorff looks disinterested and nothing happens. Reading between the lines, his character has apparently lost his sense of identity over the course of many years being one of the hottest actors around, being split from the mother of his daughter (Elle Fanning) and just needs to find a purpose in life.

I’m absolutely fine with the idea of a film about reigniting the fire in one’s soul … but aside from about a dozen Hollywood actors, who can empathize with a man who has everything but has just become numb to it all?

Let me be whisked away to spacious penthouse suites in Italy so I can receive an honorary award. Let me live at the Chateau Marmont and have meaningless sex with beautiful blondes. Let me be so secure with my finances that I leave the windows of my Ferrari down wherever I park it, no matter how public the space in Los Angeles. Apparently though, Coppola is hoping audiences can find it within themselves to feel for this man; because otherwise there really is no point to it all.

The actors all do a decent job, though the focus is squarely on Dorff and Fanning. A cameo by Chris Pontius (of “Jackass” fame) feels about right in the context he’s in but his acting reminded me of myself in a high school production … and my acting career essentially died there. Everyone else on-screen is a sycophant, hoping to gain Dorff’s attention because he’s famous. Where do you find people like that in L.A.? (insert smirk here)

The soundtrack is full of catchy songs, as Coppola tends to do in her films. However, the scenes in which they are featured are so lifeless that it feels like a sad attempt to bribe an emotional response out of the audience. She even tries to emulate the karaoke scene from “Lost in Translation”, substituting “Guitar Hero” for the medium. Sadly, all it made me wish was that I was at home playing the game rather than wondering which non-essential scene after the other would cue the end credits.

A 1 out of 5, “Somewhere” might as well have been titled “Nowhere” because that’s where it leads. Rather than proving that “Marie Antoinette” was an aberration in her directorial career, Coppola simply lost the benefit of the doubt with me at this point. I wish I could speak better of the film because I like Dorff quite a bit (he’s the reason this even earned a ratings point) and was hopeful this would be a showcase role for him. At this point, I’m just happy the film is over and I’ll never have to see it again.

1 out of 5