Thursday, September 6, 2012

Somewhere: Hit Girl in LA?

First of all, let me share that Sofia Coppola's Somewhere is the ideal movie to watch in a sinus-headache-induced fog. It's deliberate and meditative and has lovely lingering shots that give you time to contemplate not only how and why an invisible Bane mask has been put on your face, but also Coppola's relationship to, of all people, Luc Besson.

While watching Somewhere, I kept thinking about the recent cinematic trope of very powerful, very damaged, young girls (think Kick-Ass, Hanna, Sucker Punch and Besson's The Professional, Colombiana, etc.--hell, even Hunger Games and the new Snow White, now that I think of it). Though Coppola's film can in no way be called an "action movie"--it would be much more in keeping with the movie's glacial pacing to call it a passive movie--I think there might be a connection between those heroines and Elle Fanning's Cleo. Her character interrupts the slow-motion suicide by malaise of her movie star father (a really good Stephen Dorff) and prompts in him a much needed existential crisis. Cleo's verbal and non-verbal articulation of her pain and fear at having two unreliable parents seems akin to the self-expression through aggressive physicality of Besson's orphans and the weaponized daughters of Kick-Ass and Hanna, but in a way that doesn't carry the same troubling equation of violence with self-actualization or feminism.

Come to think of it, Coppola's other films--The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette--also feature girls who wield power in this way, through a questing, questioning, but incomplete sense of self, particularly, in the first two films, in the lives of similarly uncertain men. I wonder if putting Coppola's work together with this trend of girls kicking ass could be a way to think through the benefits and limitations of how both models represent the possibility and treacherousness of young womanhood.

Apologies if this post asks more questions than it answers (like, for instance, did I even think Somewhere was any good?). It's totally the Bane mask's fault.


  1. I thought Fanning was outstanding and it was nice to see Dorf in such a good role. I was frustrated with the slow pace at first but then forced myself to just let the movie happen.

  2. Yeah, I think the headache helped me there. It feels like the whole world is moving at "Somewhere" pace.