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The Daily Tar Heel

Movie Review: Somewhere

The laws of physics maintain that it’s impossible to create something out of nothing. But alas, “Somewhere” would be nothing if not for its nothingness.

Using the same atmospheric brush with which she crafted “Lost in Translation,” Sofia Coppola seduces viewers into a moody story whose emptiness beholds that of its protagonist.

With a lack of substance serving as the substance itself, the film occasionally flirts with the line between affecting stillness and static portraiture. But Coppola delivers an emotionally walloping experience as she reconciles the difference.

Meet Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), an A-list movie star who lives a lonely hotel life full of sex and cigarettes.

Enter his eleven year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), whom he’s asked to take care of for several weeks.

A mirror reflection of the man Johnny once was, Cleo pits Johnny in an internal struggle between being a celebrity and being a real person.

The film’s elegant cinematography breathes life into the spectacle of nothingness. Coppola keeps the camera as still as her almost nonexistent plot, and her sun-drenched visuals enrapture viewers from start to finish.

The performances are just as beautiful. Though an unexpected casting choice, Dorff soars as Marco, evoking muted emotions with enough substance lingering under the surface to keep you wondering how you’re supposed to feel about him.

Fanning offers the all-important contrast, bursting with so much love and grace toward her father that you can’t help but search for that aspect of Johnny you’re not seeing.

Thus, the viewer’s struggle to see Johnny as a person aligns with Johnny’s own soul-searching.

So while the film does overindulge in froth every so often ­— sometimes even maddeningly so — you can always carry yourself through potential boredom using this viewer-participation paradigm.

Is this too demanding of the audience? Maybe. But if Coppola can dispose of Newton’s laws in order to move you, so too can you of your own moviegoer principles in order to be moved.

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