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

Just Posted

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a late-game comeback against the Packers, but San Francisco lost, 30-28, on a late field goal. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers beat the Niners in a heartbreaker: Don’t panic

San Francisco is no better and no worse than you thought they were.

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers proved to be too much for the Niners in a Week 3 loss to Green Bay. It was San Francisco’s home opener for the 2021 season. (Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers.)
Week 3 NFL roundup: Packers victory over 49ers caps off a stellar Sunday

By Tyler Dunne New York Times Here’s the Week 3 roundup of… Continue reading

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

Most Read