The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning
Written & Directed by: Sophia Coppola
Music by: Phoenix
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 19, 2011
"Who am I?"
Actor Johnny Marco (Dorff) is leading the fast-paced lifestyle of a tabloid celebrity. He's comfortably numb with his life of women and pills when his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Fanning), unexpectedly arrives at his room at Hollywood's legendary Chateau Marmont hotel. Their time together encourages Johnny to re-question his life in ways he never expected.
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, Somewhere is a oddly crafted story about celebrity and parenting. Actor Johnny Marco (Dorff) is a womanizing, reclusive type whose quiet everyman nature belies his celebrity. Not one to shirk his duty to the tabloid reading public he drives a Ferrari, lives in Hollywood's legendary Chateau Marmont Hotel and more often than not can be found at wild parties or in the company of fast women. When not working he's comfortably content to drift through life with the assistance of alcohol, cigarettes, and various forms of entertainment that usually revolve around the opposite sex. When his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Fanning) arrives for a visit that unexpectedly turns into an extended stay Johnny finds their time together rewarding enough to cause him to re-examine his life.
I find the meandering pace and abstract tendencies in Sophia Coppola's narrative style to be unfulfilling. I wasn't bowled over by Lost in translation and watching this film I felt much the same. The screenplay consists of long bouts of silence where the character(s) sit in pondering silence much like you would if you were home alone etc. The first forty minutes (roughly half of the film) consists of a series of sequences featuring Johnny either, sitting alone, driving his Ferrari, or sleeping, (any interaction with people in between involves a distinctive lack of storytelling). The majority of these scenes are purposefully long in duration with some including the camera s-l-o-w-l-y panning either in or out. There is one particular scene where Johnny has to have a plaster mold made of his face (to make a prosthetic which will later be used in a make-up effect designed to age him). The plaster is put over his face, with only his nostrils exposed and he must sit still for 40 minutes while it sets. The make-up crew leaves the room and he sits there. As the camera slowly pans inward and stops there is no sound other than his labored breathing through the holes near his nostrils (strange). Over the course of the film he receives several angry text messages, presumably from a woman, but there never is any explanation. It is clear that Johnny is lonely but not alone and has emotionally detached himself for some reason.
Things get more interesting when Cleo comes into the picture. It's evident that although he doesn't often see his daughter he is a loving father. While I didn't care for the lack of dialogue in the first act I did like its implementation in the depiction of the bond that forms between Johnny and Cleo during the two weeks they spend together. Unfortunately there is no background on their relationship. As the only one established in the story it leaves the overall plotline feeling thin. I will say that in terms of the subject matter Coppola draws a sort of realistic portrait of what life might be like for someone like Johnny Marco. It is told from a fly on the wall perspective that lacks surrealism but conveys honesty. I understood the narrative's context and while Johnny is a sympathetic character I didn't empathize with him. He is a shallow philanderer but is also vaguely charismatic and likeable which adds an endearing element that is essential to the acceptance of his relationship with Chloe. I found redeeming quality in the interaction between Johnny and Cleo and appreciated the heartwarming chemistry and enriching performances by Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. In the end that alone wasn't enough to draw me into this pensive character study that played longer than any 98 minute film in recent memory.
The rating is for sexual content, nudity, and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Somewhere comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.
This is a pleasing overall high definition video presentation that appears faithful to the film's original elements. Images are resolved well and offer appreciable refinement that is readily apparent during close up camera shots. The exterior pans of the Los Angeles area locations are fairly sharp with stable resolution and discerning textures. The film has a reserved chromatic aesthetic which leaves colors appearing natural but not especially eye catching. Fleshtones are on the warm side but lifelike in depiction. Contrast and brightness levels are balanced neatly which provides punchy whites and stable blacks. Grain is apparent and appears in fine layers that give the video a filmic texture.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack readily handled the elements contained in the recording. The presentation retained a front loaded perspective with well defined and clearly articulated dialogue. Sounds were reproduced with discerning clarity and delineation that brought forth plenty of subtle nuance and low level detail. Surround activity was limited to rear channel spatial cues and occasional directional sounds. This wasn't a dynamically demanding soundtrack however things like the purring of the Ferrari's engine had enough weight to give my room a tremble. This presentation was a perfect match with the source material and sounded fine.
- Making of Somewhere documentary (17 minutes) - The cast and crew, including actor Stephen Dorff and writer/director Sofia Coppola, discuss the inspiration behind the film
- pocket BLU
- My Scenes
- BD-Live enabled
At its best Somewhere is a shallow and mildly heartwarming drama about a father and daughter who are thrust together and bond. At its worst it is a vacillating, uneventful character study that fails to resonate due to an abstractly conceived script and plodding screenplay. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios featuring good high definition audio/video quality and a solid making of documentary that is worth checking out especially for those who like the film. It is entirely possible that I am simply not a fan of Sophia Coppola's directorial/writing style but this film just didn't work for me. If you're a fan I would say that it is worth exploring via a rental otherwise I wouldn't bother.
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Sadly, I'm sure Ralph does not share that beauty, as I bet he watches the whole film to give his review. And even though I've seen some really bad movies, I can only remember one that I didn't finish (The Singing Detective), I guess I enjoy HT too much to not even finish the movie hoping I'll hear or see something cool. Quite often I find myself judging a movie off its AV merits and then story second; I suppose that's probably a trait many of us share.
You're right Josh.
I believe in finishing them regardless. As a creative work that has been brought to the big screen one would hope that some merit can be found. There is no doubt that there are some films that not only come up empty but leave me shaking my head wondering who would have greenlighted them for production.
I think as a reviewer, it's only fair to watch the whole movie and report your findings/feelings, and God Bless you Ralph, you do an excellent job and you're a better man than I am in that respect. For me though, be it a movie, a song, a book, or a meal at a restaurant, if I don't like it then..bam!! it's "The Gong Show"...anyway..moving on! .
Count me as one who slogs through an entire film. I've been surprised too many times by a sharp turn that sometimes aoccurs within a film that I originally think I should stop watching. Sure, most of the time, it may turn out that I should have quit...but other times, I may find things becoming more engaging or surprising. What if I had stopped watching TRIANGLE, for example, thinking it would be just some ghost ship yarn?!?! On the other hand, sometimes a film can be so excruciating that I just give up (a movie called THREE PRIESTS comes to mind).
Not a big fan of Sofia's films (and I've seen them all so far) so I'll probably hold off on SOMEWHERE until it hits cable. (At a 1.85 ratio, at least HBO won't be able to crop the hell out of it!)
Keep up the good work.
Thanks Ralph. I always look forward to your reviews and agree with most of them. I have not seen Somewhere yet but I feel I need to say I am a huge fan of Sofia Copolla's work and I put her on the same level as her father (Godfather I and II aside). I loved all three of here previous films and find her slower pacing and point of view very interesting. I was looking forward to your review and even one like this that is negative you do give me a sense if the movie that I read as positive. Believe it or not I am more excited about seeing this film after reading what you had to say.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks Andy! I hope that you enjoy this one..
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