With just four feature films, 'The Virgin Suicides' (2000), 'Lost in Translation' (2003), 'Marie Antoinette' (2006) and the new 'Somewhere,' Sofia Coppola has shown herself to be one of the world's most delicate and uniquely heartfelt filmmakers. She rarely gets credit for this, however, and instead receives criticism for her class and status, for having been born into "Hollywood royalty." It doesn't help that she tends to make movies about privileged characters, but Ms. Coppola also manages to make these characters universal and emotionally truthful, showing them to be just as sad, lost, lonely, and confused as the rest of us. Her new movie has started off well, winning the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.
'Somewhere' tells the story of a successful Hollywood actor, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), who has just finished a movie and spends most of his days living in a room at the Chateau Marmont, drinking, smoking, having sex, and just generally trying to stave off boredom and despair. Things change when his 11 year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) is dropped off for a visit of uncertain legnth; he begins, through this simple human connection, to understand what his life could be about. Coppola tells this story in a dreamy, non-linear way with very little explanation or exposition, which will be aggravating to many American viewers. But those that clue into its sensitive rhythms will find something to treasure.