I watched Somewhere for the first time on an Italo train, a homebound journey from Milan to Florence. After a weekend away, I was returning for my final three weeks of school in the rolling Tuscan hills. It was almost summer. The days were growing longer. My friends and I spent less time on homework and more on laying in the sun, discussing our future.
As she does in most of her filmography, Sofia Coppola captures the essence of emptiness and longing in Somewhere. The film is centered around the relationship between Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a tired movie star, and his tagalong daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning). Coppola excellently develops the companionship between the two: they play Guitar Hero, have midnight ice cream, and enjoy the simple existence of one another.
Coppola paints a bright blue sky with vibrant green foliage and places an equally vibrant young Cleo within the portrait. Somewhere is set between Los Angeles and Milan — both locations associated with glitz and glamour are represented in a new, mundane light. Summer days are endless. We feel their lengths just as Cleo does: in the silence of parking lots, in the exhaustion of a day at the pool.
Somewhere is a movie about being an adolescent girl in summer, underscored by Cleo’s quasi-fame of being a star’s daughter. A life that could be assumed as busy, hectic, and exhausting is transformed into a quiet, holistically perceivable one. Johnny is drained. The act of fatherhood and responsibility will potentially drain him more, but Cleo’s bright attitude and ability to connect emotionally bring him respite.
As I stepped off my train in Florence, I began viewing Italy and summertime through the lens of Sofia Coppola. I mapped conversations through silences. I felt every noise before I heard it. I reflected upon my own relationship with my father, of rainy days stuck inside playing Wii and cooking pasta. I feel Coppola’s quiet, lurking style in the ways I direct my own life, in the ways I see my life play frame by frame.
Fletcher Peters is a film writer currently working on her Bachelor’s in Cinema Studies at New York University. She’s an avid fan of Italian film.