Coppola heads ‘Somewhere’

Sofia Coppola is sometimes chided for having it too easy, and born into Hollywood royalty — she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola — but it’s evident she’s a unique filmmaker, and one of the most interesting working today.

Despite the perceived glitz and glamour behind her life, the 39-year-old director makes the most breathtakingly delicate movies imaginable, from her acclaimed Bill Murray comedy “Lost in Translation” in 2003, to the misunderstood costume epic “Marie Antoinette” from 2006.

Her new movie, “Somewhere,” which opens Wednesday, won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

It concerns a successful Hollywood actor, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), who has lost his way in a haze of sex, drugs, loneliness and boredom. He begins to find his way again when his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) suddenly turns up for an indefinite stay.

Recently in San Francisco to discuss the movie, Coppola says, as in her previous films, she tried to portray a universal emotional experience, despite the fact that her hero is a movie star.

“I put it in that setting because that world’s familiar to me,” she says. “But I tried to keep his job in the background and not make it about that. Everyone has to make decisions as to how they’re going to live.”

Just as she wrote “Lost in Translation” with Murray in mind, Coppola wrote “Somewhere” for Dorff (“Blade,” “Public Enemies”), whom she knew but hadn’t seen in some time. “I find it helpful to picture someone, and I just thought of Stephen when I started to write.”

She says that Dorff’s sweet personality was the opposite of the character she had in mind, which would make for an interesting characterization.

Audiences will no doubt experience Dorff like they’ve never seen him before.

“He couldn’t hide behind anything,” Coppola says. “I like when the drama is going on from within the character, and the tension comes from what’s not being said.”

So how does Coppola conjure up that dreamy, quiet atmosphere?

The actors reportedly rehearse and improvise their scenes, but she never blocks scenes or overprepares.

On set, she works with a small crew (no “assistant directors yelling”), and even tries to get rid of any big distractions, like trucks, unless they’re needed. After that, she says, “It’s always mysterious how it comes together. It does, and then at the end, it gives you a feeling.”


IF YOU GO

Somewhere


Starring
Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola

Rated R

Running time 1 hour 38 minutes

artsentertainmentMoviesSan FranciscoSomewhere

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

“Tenet,” the new Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington, is showing at the drive-in in Concord. (Courtesy Warner Bros.)
Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

There are pandemic-era options for movie lovers who want to watch outdoors

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

In this handout image provided by the California Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Scott Peterson poses for a mug shot March 17, 2005 in San Quentin, California. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi sentenced Peterson to death March 16 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. (California Department of Corrections via Getty Images/TNS)
Prosecutors to retry penalty phase of Scott Peterson trial

2003 discovery of Laci Peterson’s body led to sensational high-profile murder trial of husband

Most Read