Sofia Coppola's work is frequently called into question by detractors who insist that she would not be where she is without her father's clout in the film industry. This may be true to a degree, however, there is no doubt in my mind that she would have eventually gotten to where she is--just not as quickly. With her latest film, called simply Somewhere (a title that reflects the brevity and straightforwardness of the script), Coppola's string of cinematic impressiveness (Marie Antoinette included) is cut short. It isn't so much that Somewhere is necessarily a "bad" movie, it's just that it's a movie that could just as well not have been made.
Maybe there is some value to be found in it based on the one source where Coppola never fails her audience: Musical selection. In this particular film though, Coppola is overt in showcasing the fact that scenes are created based entirely around a song, chiefly the stripper scenes in Johnny Marco's (Stephen Dorff) hotel room (Chateau Marmont, bitches!) where they dance to The Foo Fighters' "My Hero" and Amerie's "1 Thing." In fact, most of the songs in Somewhere are played in their entirety, such as Gwen Stefani's "Cool" (played, incidentally, while Cleo--yes that's Dakota Fanning's sister, Elle--ice skates during a private lesson), The Strokes' "I'll Try Anything Once" (if it sounds vaguely familiar, it's because this is the demo version of their single "You Only Live Once" from First Impressions of Earth), and a cover of Elvis Presley's "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" by Romulo (I don't know who that is either).
And, while Coppola's visual and auditory tastes are consummate, it is not enough to bolster the strength of the story that seems to be missing from Somewhere. Though I'm all for character-driven movies, the protagonists, if you will, of Coppola's fourth feature are too banal to really care about and the narrative itself is almost a little too derivative of Showtime's Californication.
Peppered with random cameos by Benicio Del Toro and some Italian TV stars (big up to Coppola for showing love to her roots), namely Simona Ventura and Nino Frassica, Somewhere wanders aimlessly trying to find, well, somewhere, to ultimately end up. In the process, Cleo and Johnny find themselves in Milan so that Johnny can accept an award, a portion of the film that is far and away the most entertaining (leave it to Italians to provide amusement).
So, basically, if you've seen the trailer for Somewhere, you've pretty much seen the whole movie. Nothing much else happens. But if you like L.A. scenery (and what kind of monster doesn't?), artful stripping scenes, and The Strokes, you should give Somewhere a whirl. Or you could just watch Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette again, each of which bears one of the aforementioned three qualities.