Count me among the people who loved 'Lost in Translation. It was a deliberately paced love story that featured Sofia Coppola's signature camerawork. With her movies, viewers turns into voyeurs, as lingering shots allow you to take in everything that's happening. I loved that in 'Lost in Translation,' so why did I hate it in 'Somewhere?' Maybe it's because Stephen Dorff is nowhere near as entertaining as Bill Murray. Or maybe it's because Coppola has already worn out the visual aesthetic that made her an original filmmaker. "Hey look, it's another shot of a car driving in circles for three whole minutes." It's almost as if 'Somewhere' is screaming, "Can't you tell?! Sofia Coppola directed me!"
Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a man lost in celebrity. He's one of the biggest stars in the world. His days consist of sleeping in and going to Italy on a moment's notice, while his nights are full of booze-filled parties with people he hardly knows. He lives at the famous Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles. It's fitting that Marco actually lives out of a hotel. With round the clock room service he's able to wallow even more in his laziness. The man goes out of his way to hire twin strippers to come to his hotel room, only to fall asleep during their routine. That's how out of it he really is.
Coppola follows Marco around with her camera. We sit and watch as he drives his car around a race track over and over. All the while saying, "Okay, we get it. The guy is lonely."
It just so happens that Marco has an 11 year-old daughter who he rarely sees. Cleo (Elle Fanning) is just what he needs to maybe change his life around. She grounds him in reality, letting him know there's something more to life than drinking, room service, and easy women.
We all know what's going to happen. Marco, at some point has an epiphany. A realization that his life as a famous celebrity is worth nothing unless he has someone to share the fun with. Coppola drives this point home over and over, until it's almost nauseating. We get it already! It's the age-old adage that money doesn't buy you happiness. Marco sees no way out of his downward spiral of a life, except with his daughter. It's touching sometimes, but most of the time the movie becomes an exercise in seeing how long Coppola can hold a scene without the viewers yelling, "Okay, get on with it already." There are some points during the movie, where I was wondering if I was watching a Ferrari commercial. So that's what it's like watching a Ferrari drive over the freeways of California.
'Somewhere' seems tedious, and at times useless. Dorff fails to be engaging in his role of Marco. He fails to draw us in and make us care about him. Likewise, his daughter Cleo seems just as flat as a character. These characters aren't like Charlotte and Bob in 'Lost in Translation.' Those were some intriguing and provocative characters. Marco and Cleo are all surface and no substance.
'Somewhere' has an intentionally gritty, flat look to it. Its 1080p picture, can at times, be overly soft and gritty almost like it was filmed with 16mm. Knowing Coppola, this was indeed a directorial choice.
The image is light on details, but doesn't exhibit any extraneous noise. There's a thick layer of grain here that has been preserved to give it that raw cinematic look. Blacks are flat and hazy, most likely due to the overall look of the film, but still they lack the same depth and delineated satisfaction that you'll get in other more polished looking presentations. It's hard to really fault 'Somewhere' for looking so decidedly murky and rough around the edges, because it was obviously the director's intent.
In short, this presents the film as well as it will likely ever look, but no one is ever going to use the 'Somewhere' Blu-ray as demo material.
Likewise the DTS-HD Master Audio presentation is reserved and held back.
Dialogue and surround sound effects sound brash and unrestrained. Most of the movie I kept thinking this is exactly what voices on someone's home video sound like. The sound design lacks depth, which is also by directorial design. It adds to the gritty realism of the movie. Directionality works well, especially during the opening scene as Marco drives his roaring Ferrari around the track. The sound of the engine zooms in and out of the front channels depending on where the car is relative to the camera. Surround sound is reserved, even during a busy awards show Marco and Cleo attend.
Again, this is exactly what Coppola intended her movie to sound like, but you wouldn't stick it in your player and tell your friends "Hey, come here, you gotta listen to this scene in high-def lossless audio!"
'Somewhere' is devoid of the poignancy that made 'Lost in Translation' such a treat. It seems Coppola is treading terrain she's already trod. Another famous person bewildered by their fame looking to find an outlet. For Bob it was another woman, Charlotte. For Johnny Marco it's his daughter, Cleo. Essentially, it's the same film with the same moments and realizations. Coppola even sneaks in another hushed line of dialogue as a helicopter engine roars. As if to say "Remember that famous scene at the end of 'Lost in Translation'? Here it is again, only slightly different." I would recommend renting 'Somewhere' first, even if you are a Coppola fan. I still adore her earlier works, but this one seemed rather useless since all of it and more was better covered in 'Lost in Translation.'