“Somewhere” wanders aimlessly, goes nowhere

Elle Fanning (left) and Stephen Dorff (right) star in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, a Focus Features release. Courtesy Merrick Morton//Focus Feature

Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” starts with a shot of a Ferrari doing laps in the desert. It seems both endless and meaningless, unfortunately a rather apt metaphor for the film as a whole. Both the film and the car look pretty, but in the end, there is no point to either. Coppola, usually gifted and inventive, simply came up short with this effort.

Coppola may have intended for the film to be about a famous actor’s introspective look at his life after living with his daughter for a while, but still, nothing actually happens. Hollywood star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) drinks like a fish, falls asleep during sex and seems generally miserable until his precocious, preteen daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) stays with him.

Her arrival seems to herald the arrival of the film’s main plot point: Marco takes Cleo to camp. Sure, he mopes around and they even take a vacation to Milan, but the plot barely moves. The catalyst that supposedly drives the story forward is that he watches his daughter until camp starts, a notion that proves to be far less compelling than Coppola probably expected.

Thankfully, Fanning proves to be a preternaturally talented actress. Just 12 years old, she acts with exquisite poise and grace. Her work is far subtler than that of her older sister, Dakota Fanning, and her performance is a bright spot in the film.

Even the soundtrack, provided by the normally bombastic French band Phoenix, is subdued. Coppola is normally an understated director, but everything about “Somewhere” seems so passive that it begs the question: Why? Unfortunately, besides Fanning’s performance, Coppola provides no reason for the audience to watch.

Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at sbpilchick@themiamihurricane.com.

Rating: 2/4 stars

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning

Directed By: Sofia Coppola

MPAA Rating: R