Somewhere is the new film written and directed by Sophia Coppola. She is considered an artist, though stronger on mood, and atmospherics than story. She has been branded that way, but in fact her story, her narrative is extremely sublime; it is about the “gaze” and an exploration of it without objectifying it or fetishizing it. All this with a female aesthetic in which the body in this case male, and female in her previous Marie Antoinette; are in the artistic sense go beyond the traditional objective of being shown off and voyeuristically consumed. An absence of peep show titillation, plastic and paint.
The film is about Johnny Macro ( Stephen Dorff ), a bad-boy B movie star between jobs who lives in the iconic Chateau Marmont hotel on Sunset Strip; despite the groupies, drugs and other pleasures, he does not really own his life. He is a tenant with some occupancy rights, though limited. Then his visit from his eleven year old daughter nudges him to the surface. It an exploration of the ostensibly devouring nature of celebrity, even at margins of the major league level. Celebrity as commodity; celebrity as some sort of cultural prostitute that drives demand for goods and services. Whether its Snooki or Justin Bieber or even John Travolta, there is not much difference. Except with Coppola it is. Somewhere is an experimental film with pop culture context. Its about exploring in-between spaces where people are not totally bereft of authenticity , but they are posing, but not obsessively so. Call it gaming theory where their lives are the fabrication of a meme of their own existence.
The pop psychology line suggests our obsession with celebrity may be the result of an unfulfilled quest for personal realization. A desire for a dose of exile; In this alternative universe, nothing is genuine. Everything under the artificial sun is performance, and, as a result, there is insecurity and self-created alienation, usually accompanied by some sort of collapse where someone take the place, or there is resurrection and rebirth. Coppola’s movie is about dislocation and the splintering of self and reflects her own seemingly obsession with the way wealth and fame disfigure people.
Sofia Coppola attempts to portray the female figure in a different way then classical film. She attempts to use the sexual in such a way that it brings up issues about the female sexuality or provides depth into her characters. Also, while she attempts to keep the audience from viewing the female characters with the male gaze, she uses the gaze sparingly in her films. Rarely is it on the main character unless is provides significant insight in the character. In particular, Lost in Translation (2003) refrains from allowing Charlotte from being viewed in this way by Bob Harris. The female figure is portrayed differently then it would be in a classical film when directed by the female director. Some of this could do with the type of plot in the various films, but that also could mean that Coppola is consciously making an attempt to prevent the male gaze from occurring unless she has a specific reason for it. ( Paul Swendsrud )