Sofia Coppola’s much anticipated fourth long feature Somewhere is now completed and the trailer is already available. Somewhere tells the story of an idle actor (Stephen Dorff) enjoying la Dolce Vita until he receives the unexpected visit of her 11-year-old daughter, played by Elle Fanning. The story is mainly set in the (in)famous Chateau Marmont, which is a good omen for the film after Coppola’s terrific use of Tokyo’s Park Hyatt Hotel in her 2003 critically acclaimed Lost in Translation.
Coppola’s acting career started as an infant actress playing the baby boy in the christening scene of her father’s The Godfather and was effectively ended in the third part of the trilogy, where she played Mary Corleone in one of the most critically smashed performances in cinema history. Ever since then, however, Sofia has proved to be something more than daddy’s girl and has directed three excellent pictures.
2003’s Lost in Translation is her most successful film to date. For that film, she became the first American (and only third) female helmer to be nominated for an Oscar in the directing category. Katrhyn Bigelow wrote Oscar history this year, and deservedly so, when she was bestowed the Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, but Coppola should have got that honour back in 2004. She lost to Peter Jackson for the third instalment of The Lord of the Rings, probably in recognition of his work in the whole trilogy.
With Marie Antoinette she managed to divide audiences and critics all over the world. The film was booed by some when presented at the Cannes Film Festival but was received with a standing ovation by others. Although the cake the Queen let us eat in the film was definitely much too pink and the score was off-putting at first, I’m more on the ovation than on the booing side, since by the end of the film I had not only enjoyed a visually impressive work but also had understood the character, beautifully played by Kirsten Dunst, much better than through many other historically accurate films.
My personal favourite Sofia Coppola film is still, however, her official debut (she had previously directed Bad, Bath and Beyond and Lick the Star), 1999’s The Virgin Suicides, not least because of the clear influence of one of my all-time favourite films, Peter Weir’s 1975 cult classic Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Somewhere‘s official release date is December 22, probably in an attempt to gain award attention, so we’ll have to be patient, but you can watch the trailer (link below).
One of the film’s appeals is the score by French rock band Phoenix (the band’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was chosen 2009 album of year in Imitation of Life) and the presence of 11-year-old Elle Fanning, Dakota’s younger sister. Although she has already played in grown-up, important movies like Babel or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, this is her first chance to prove she is actually ready to be a leading lady. Grown up artistically in the shadow of Dakota’s natural talent (she has even played her sister’s younger self several times, including in I Am Sam), Elle has become an impressively convincing child actor on her own merits. I recently saw her in an interview in Ellen Degeneres’ show and she looked scarily adult in her demeanour and body language, but she is indeed a solid performer. Although the film will be released at the end of the year, I predict now that next year she may achieve what her older sister was universally expected but never managed to get: an Oscar nomination as a child actress. Time will tell.
Here’s the trailer: