Having previously explored the crippling loneliness of a world-famous actor adrift in Tokyo (Lost in Translation) and the emotional isolation of French royalty (Marie Antoinette), Sofia Coppola now turns her attention in Somewhere to the travails of the less fortunate—specifically, a slightly less world-famous actor with a broken arm. Surprise! He’s lonely and isolated, too.
First seen driving his sports car in anguished circles, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) spends the entirety of Somewhere in Nowhere Land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody. He watches with polite indifference as identical twins do a pole dance in his room at the Château Marmont. He answers journalists’ dumb questions at a press conference. He receives angry texts from women he’s somehow wronged. Only his pre-adolescent daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), brings some measure of joy into the sterile privilege that defines his existence. But Johnny can’t help but feel that he’s squandered even that relationship. He has everything, and yet he has nothing.
If anybody could find poetry in this whiny cliché, it would be Coppola, a gifted filmmaker with a terrifically sensuous eye. Somewhere, alas, is her weakest effort to date—an empty movie about emptiness. Dorff works hard against his pretty-boy image, but he lacks the soul that Bill Murray brought to Lost in Translation, and the film’s series of uninflected non-events builds to a final scene so solemnly pretentious that it demands popcorn thrown at the screen. Young Ms. Fanning, however, is proving to be a major talent. Johnny may not be going anywhere, but she is.