In the throes of promoting his new movie, film star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) has taken up residence in LA's famous Chateau Marmont hotel. Entertained in his room by pole dancers, before floating from press conference to photo call, the Hollywood star is constantly surrounded by people - yet feels totally alone.
Without a home or family to return to, Johnny is rootless, but his life of no responsibility changes when he gets a surprise visit from estranged 11-yearold daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning). Initially planning a brief stop, Cleo's stay is unexpectedly extended, prompting Johnny to reassess his life.
If Lost In Translation follow-up Marie Antoinette went under the radar, Somewhere goes some way to recapturing the buzz of Sofia Coppola's breakthrough feature. Awarded the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, her deconstruction of celebrity culture (mirroring Bill Murray's jaded movie star in Lost In Translation), is an intriguing, if demanding character study.
Not afraid to make the viewer scrabble for the smallest crumbs of meaning, certain scenes in Somewhere threaten to push the patience. From a disarmingly oblique opening sequence of Johnny racing his Ferrari around a dirt track, to an extended depiction of Cleo making breakfast, Coppola indulges her love of subtlety, ambiguity and detail. It's these elements however, along with a hypnotically meandering tone, that draw you into Johnny's shiftless lifestyle.
There is little in the way of plot, the film being more a series of windows into Johnny's world, observing how it changes as he becomes closer to his daughter.
Revelatory performances from Dorff and Fanning (younger sister of Dakota), however, help make this relationship the best thing about the film. Their funny, charming and believable bond make it a real pleasure to be in their company, while Coppola emerges as a director with vision and the tenacity to follow it through.