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Variety’s take on Somewhere

Don’t want to seem to be obsessing but as these reviews trickle the reactions are all over the map, so here’s another perspective from Variety:

Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” is a quiet heartbreaker. Trading “Lost in Translation’s” Tokyo hotel for Beverly Hills’ Chateau Marmont, the ever-perceptive writer-director further hones her gifts for ruefully funny observation and understated melancholy with this low-key portrait of a burned-out screen actor. Steeped in morning-after regret and centered around a strong performance by Stephen Dorff, the result is sure to frustrate those who require their plots thick and their emotions underlined, but Focus Features should be able to court a small, discerning audience willing to get on the film’s delicate wavelength.

“Lost in Translation” reps a distillation of Coppola’s techniques rather than a progression, and her critics may well fault her for staying in her comfort zone, for retreating ever further into a bubble of solipsism and high privilege — a charge that would be more persuasive if the movies themselves weren’t so consistently disarming. Film by film, she’s building a fresh, distinctive body of work marked by an abiding fascination with the inner lives of celebrities — a desire to expose the ennui and alienation lurking behind so many tabloid personas and hold them up for pointed comic and dramatic inspection, something she does here with practiced ease…

The rewarding cumulative effect of this approach is the sense that we’ve gotten to know the character intimately, a considerable credit to the actor behind the actor. Present in every scene of the pic’s 96-minute running time, Dorff riffs slyly on his own B-actor persona, even as he confirms the talent that’s always been apparent over the course of his uneven career. It’s a performance light on dialogue but rich in slouching, slackerish body language, and while Dorff spends roughly half the movie shirtless, what comes through is a sense of vulnerability rather than vanity. Fanning matches him nuance for nuance, rendering their onscreen relationship effortlessly convincing.

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