When’s it out?

Somewhere is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now.

Who’s in it?

Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius and Michelle Monaghan.

What’s it about?

A disillusioned, self-involved Hollywood movie star named Johnny Marco (Dorff) is forced to re-examine his debauched and near-solitary existence when his 11-year old daughter comes to stay. As the film works best as a kind of character-based puzzle, avoiding spoilers is whole-heartedly advised.

What’s it like?

Entourage as directed by Gus Van Sant.

Star of the show?

It’s probably Stephen Dorff. Previously regarded as an also-ran pretty boy who never possessed the acting chops required to make it through to the big time, and notable for being the Blade series’ weakest villain – and as part of a small group that also featured a former member of 80’s boy band Bros, this was no mean feat – so Somewhere is unquestionably something of an eye-opener. Dorff’s performance is rich and deeply understated, and this often boisterous performer completely resists the urge to just hammily push buttons. Elle Fanning (Dakota’s sister) is outright astonishing too.

Biggest surprise?

The complete lack of directorial pandering. Aside from coaxing terrific performances from everyone involved, director Sofia Coppola also never loses her focus, and avoids easy answers at every juncture. She never forces us to empathise with Dorff’s character, and many people simply won’t; and yet the film’s success is never forced to hinge upon it. Similarly, the utterly bizarre side of Hollywood depicted in Somewhere – in which almost everyone lives in tacky hotels purely because they’ve lost the ability to do anything for themselves – has never been seen with this kind of brutal clarity before, and the lack of familiar reference points is thoroughly refreshing.

Best bit?

There are a couple of tiny, well-executed moments of genuine comedy,  but if any one sequence stands above all of the others, it’s a quiet scene that takes place at a breakfast table. It’s a near-perfect sequence of bottled-up tension, riddled with anxiety, resentment and regret, and it’s achieved entirely without the aid of dialogue.

Verdict

Somewhere is an unorthodox and otherworldly film that never fully lays its cards on the table, even after the credits have rolled. It tells a deliberately slow story that demands patience and investigation, and most definitely isn’t for everyone. But if you’re dialled into its dreamy, lo-fi sense of subdued observation, the experience is rather delectable. Oh, and the Phoenix soundtrack, though used very sparsely, is outstanding.

Hit or miss?

An unusual and wildly offbeat hit.

Watch the Somewhere trailer here…

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