Making it's World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival, but curiously skipping any stateside festival appearances, "Somewhere," the latest from Sofia Coppola, will find critics and audiences determining if she's merely treading water with yet another tale of disaffection or if she has found new tones to explore within her familiar milieu. The film focuses on a hard-living Hollywood actor (Stephen Dorff) who re-examines his life after his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) surprises him with a visit. While populated with co-stars/cameo appearances by Michelle Monaghan, Benicio del Toro, Laura Ramsey, Robert Schwartzman, Chris Pontius and Caitlin Keats, the film is pretty much a two-character piece. Reviews are starting to come in from the Lido and not surprisingly, early thoughts are mixed (and we'll continue to update as the trades and other critics post their reviews throughout the day):
Guy Lodge at InContention notes that while the territory may not be new, "with the wry, shimmery and thoroughly beguiling “Somewhere,” Coppola has perhaps made exactly the film she needed to at this point in her career: one that calmly takes stock of her abilities and interests rather than pushing them too severely." Both Dorff and Fanning earn praise for their performances, and film finds "Coppola is at her most low-key in “Somewhere,” but there’s barely a note in this moving, finely wrought miniature that isn’t in key either."
Anne Thompson views the film as a "companion piece to 'Marie Antoinette,'" noting the performances as standouts saying, "This is the role Dorff has been waiting for; it’s a real breakthrough for both him and Fanning. Witty, spare and gorgeously framed, 'Somewhere' should play well for the young smart-house set."
Derek Malcolm at the London Evening Standard is less taken with the film's languid approach writing, "The film has no big dramatic moments, just a series of sequences gradually making the watcher aware of just why there’s a text on Johnny’s phone stating: 'Why are you such an arsehole?'....It’s an unexpected change of gear for Francis’s daughter, who says her childhood is mined in the film. It may last in the memory a little more than 'Marie Antoinette,' if not quite as long as 'Lost In Translation.'"
In advance of their full length review, Time Out London simply tweets, "Better than expected, but still falls to pieces after a robust/funny/sweet first hour." Here's their full review and it's medium cool with 3 stars. "A cloying sense of déjà vu radiates from ‘Somewhere’....That’s not to dismiss the movie as a failure, it just forces viewers to make a judgement call as to whether her ongoing concerns regarding the alienation suffered by the pampered, beautiful elite (a world she obviously knows very well) coalesce into a satisfying body of work or whether she’s simply making variations on the same movie."
Variety seems to be onboard and echoing thoughts about it's low-key nature. "Somewhere" is a quiet heartbreaker. Trading "Lost in Translation's" Tokyo hotel for Beverly Hills' Chateau Marmont, the ever-perceptive writer-director further hones her gifts for ruefully funny observation and understated melancholy with this low-key portrait of a burned-out screen actor. Steeped in morning-after regret and centered around a strong performance by Stephen Dorff, the result is sure to frustrate those who require their plots thick and their emotions underlined, but Focus Features should be able to court a small, discerning audience willing to get on the film's delicate wavelength."
The Guardian only gives it 2 stars however and it's pretty much a pan. "Weirdly, the movie looks like an acidly satirical comedy about LA celebrity but with all the acidly satirical comedy removed,so that all that is left is a skeleton outline, a series of scenes and locations — hotel rooms, lobbies, swimming pools, luxury automobile interiors — in which essentially gentle, forgiving dialogue takes place.... Coppola is arguably very indulgent to both daddy and daughter, and to the rich and famous generally, and audiences may be bemused or exasperated, according to taste."
Empire calls it a "worthwhile...lovely" picture, but they think it's so under the radar, it might not interest Oscar (so what). Like other critics, they suggest it familiar feeling, but still interesting and engaging. "The downside... is that Somewhere is so low-key, its core cast may get overlooked come awards season: Dorff is effortless as the dozy lothario, and Fanning gives a refreshingly reined-in child performance as the daughter who, in some ways, is older than her father. But nobody will overlook its director. This is definitely Coppola's film, a familiar but still studied and affecting piece that functions nicely as a character study but ever better as a piece of art."