A love letter to one of my favourite directors
Lost In Translation showed a 13-year old me the frightfully powerful hold that cinema can have on a person. ‘But nothing happened‘, so many complained. Yet, I cared not, as to me, everything happened: Sophia Coppola happened.
It can be difficult to tear Sophia’s name from the stigma that her family name carries, even though her work is so different from her father’s. While I like the Godfather, and was thoroughly entertained by the Godfather part II, I will always choose a viewing of Marie Antoinette for a Friday night in. Controversial, I know.
Being boo'd and hissed at during various film festivals, Marie Antoinette is largely known to be Coppola's biggest cinematic failure (Directorial failure, this does not include her acting in The Godfather part III). I cannot deny that in means of story and character it is about as realistic as Avatar, even though it is supposed to be based on truth. Though, this is no hindrance to a devout Copola fan: While I can barely remember what happened in relation to plot, I remember what I felt watching the film. Marie Antoinette was as beautiful as Avatar. Every scene edible, every costume striking and Kirsten Dunst’s performance massively underrated - which could have been a denominating factor in why she ended up in rehab so soon afterwards.
From one Dunst/Coppola Collaboration to another, The Virgin Suicides, is for me, the teen angst film of all time (Though, I do like Bring it On. A lot). Not only is it faithful to the essence of Jeffrey Eugenides’ terrific novel, but it works itself as a ingenious observation of the teenage girl. The emptiness, the loneliness and the insignificance of being a 14 – 17 year old adolescent is showcased from an obviously personal viewpoint, and is accompanied perfectly by a score from French electronica band Air.
As with her three past films, Coppola's newest feature, Somewhere is about being materially rich but morally bankrupt, which is impossible not to interpret as a biographical reference. Just like Lost in Translation, we have a rich film star spending his life in hotels doing fuck all. How can this be entertaining?
Somehow, without telling us how we are suppose to feel through a plot, she shows us. It is what is not said that is important. There are moments of intense stillness that tie the audience to Stephen Dorff’s character in ways that underline Coppola’s specific breed of filmmaking. Without giving away too much for those who have not seen it, we are left with a similar conclusion as to Lost in Translation; and Bob’s whispering in Charlotte’s ear. We want, so desperately, to know what was said, but never find out, however many times we re-watch it.
Stephen Dorff – Who’s work I was not familiar with until now, performs the role brilliantly and Elle Fanning gives her older sister someone to watch out for. Somewhere is another addition to what I'd call a fantastic start-out for a young(ish) director.