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Somewhere

I can't say I really love Sofia Coppola's films, much as I want to. But one thing she succeeds in every time is making you think for a long time after it's over.

The thing I was prompted to think about the most after watching this movie was that despite having her distinctive stamp on it, it looked like the least staged movie in ages. Any other film is very carefully crafted – the director sets up a scene, blocks a shot, knows when the start and stop rolling, directs the dialogue and shows you no more or less than you need to know to follow the story.

Coppola seems to have intended the opposite, to just let the empty life of movie star Johnny Marco (Dorff) roll on as she films him no matter what he's doing – often for long stretches and sometimes even missing the pivots on which her story turns. He gets abusive text messages, his female co-star (Monaghan) treats him with derision and not even the prickly relationships around him are explained, just shown as they happen. A lot of mainstream fans will find both the pace and the lack of explanation boring and despite appreciating what she was trying to do, I was the same.

One aspect Coppola gets pitch perfect is catching the realistic minutiae of life no matter how rich or famous the protagonist is. It's hard to put your finger on the details, but if Michael Bay or Adrian Lyne had staged the scene of the stripper twins they'd have smoke machines, the shadows of thin Venetian blinds, rock music and endless pouts. Coppola instead focuses on the swishing sounds the girls' legs make on their temporary poles, the only-just interested look in their eyes, the way their thighs wobble a little because that's what most womens' thighs do.

In the twilight zone after finishing a movie and promoting it, the aimless Marco flits from one coddled environment to the next, surrounded by money and plenty but with all feeling for life having drained away. His eleven year old daughter Clio (Fanning) shows up and starts a slight redemptive tale in him.

I say slight because once again, Coppola's imagery is much stronger than her plot. This could have been a Hallmark Channel tearjerker in less subtle hands. Just like in Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides, she's a master craftsman of the moving image but she's not interested enough in story to make much of a dent outside the black turtleneck brigade.

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