Film and TV

From Party Girl to Oscar Winner, Sofia Coppola's Journey to Somewhere

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It's fair to point to Somewhere's resemblance to Lost in Translation, but the similarities between the films needn't be pejorative. Both films deal with a very specific side effect of fame: the loneliness of being wanted by strangers and yet having no one to talk to. Translation leavens that loneliness with wry comedy and by offering its sad actor the hope of a quasi-romance. There's very little comedy in Somewhere, and in the world it describes, romantic relationships don't exist; women offer Johnny only easy sex and angry texts. If Johnny's complicated relationship with his preteen daughter is a temporary comfort, it's also a reminder of his inability to sustain a connection or make a commitment of any kind.

In both films, the big event is that the characters, self-obsessed and wound too tight, lose themselves in a moment that can't be sustained. Lost in Translation's Rorschach-blot conclusion may be ambiguous, but it's undeniably exhilarating. At Somewhere's equally enigmatic end, Johnny makes a Big, Symbolic, Potentially Life-Changing Gesture — but for the moment, more than ever, he's rootless and utterly alone.

With no permanent residence in L.A., Coppola, Mars, and their kids have been living at the hotel while promoting Somewhere. But change is in the air. Coppola will start to think about her next project. In an echo of her film's highly symbolic ending, she tells me she's just let go of one major tie to L.A. "I had an old Jaguar, and I recently sold it," she says, wistfully.

Is it a sign that she's decisively put Los Angeles in her rearview mirror, so to speak? If so, she isn't letting go completely. She smiles, almost conspiratorially.

"I sold it to a friend."

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Karina Longworth