Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010


Directed by Sofia Coppola

With Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning

Opens 12.22

Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) belongs to a social class that might be called the homeless elite. A Hollywood star of undefined wattage, he stays at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard — that funky-cool faux-French hotel where Greta Garbo and Howard Hughes lived and John Belushi and Helmut Newton died. All amenities available: twin blondes performing a sexy pole dance right in your room, and an old waiter who'll sing Elvis' "Teddy Bear" on request. Johnny is restless; he knows his life needs direction, but which direction? Just ... somewhere. For now, though, he's a permanent transient.

Sofia Coppola, who often accompanied her father Francis as he made movies around the world, has been in more hotels than the Gideons, and her own work as a writer-director often reflects her touring days with Dad. Lost in Translation, which won her a screenplay Oscar in 2004, booked Bill Murray, as a middle-aged movie star, into a Tokyo hotel where he found a temporary cure for the spiritual blahs in Scarlett Johansson's smile. Johnny, who leaves the Marmont only to hole up at other hotels in Las Vegas and Milan, is another such anomic guy. He is thrown an emotional lifeline when his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) is sent to stay with him — and, as Sofia frequently did, becomes her dad's hotel pal.

Somewhere could be described as the inside-movie story of a loner star — say, Entourage without the entourage. It's also Lost in Translation without Bill Murray's sad comic touch. The humor here is either subtle or affectless, and Dorff lacks the star personality that would help clue audiences in to what's going on inside Johnny — or, for that matter, inside the film.

Those secrets must be gleaned from the gifted young actress playing Johnny's daughter. The younger sister of Dakota Fanning, Elle gives Cleo a fresh, winning goodness. She likes rock 'n' roll, cooking, figure skating and the Twilight saga. She's something you don't find in most movies, especially movies about movie people: a nice, normal kid. Coppola eschews the big redemptive ending, but viewers will intuit that for Johnny the Hollywood nomad, Cleo's heart is his true home. She is the somewhere he needs to get to.