Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere: Her Luxury Hotel Trilogy Draws to a Close

December 24, 2010

In 2003, Sofia Coppola, earned her place as a lioness of the independent film world when she wrote and directed, Lost in Translation, a film about an affectless young woman, fighting off boredom and ennui as she kills time hanging around a luxury hotel in Japan. The film won Ms. Coppola an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a Best Director nomination. In 2006, she followed up Lost in Translation with Marie Antoinette, a film about an affectless young woman fighting off boredom and ennui as she kills time hanging around a gigantic palace in 18th Century France. And now she is back with Somewhere, a film about an affectless, not-as-young-as-he-dresses actor, fighting off boredom and ennui as he kills time hanging around a luxurious hotel in Los Angeles.

There is no rule of cinema stating that the problems the wealthy face in killing time while hanging out at luxury hotels can never be the stuff of good drama. (For the purposes of this article, we will count Marie Antoinette’s Versailles as a luxury hotel of its day, which to many thousands of its guests, it was. And will be again: This week, The New York Times reported that an annex on the Versailles estate will soon be a 23-room hotel.) Tolstoy, to name one artist, managed to spin a decent yarn or two around the travails of the extravagantly wealthy. The comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age were typically set in grand hotels or on cruise liners or country estates. And in these cases, their authors (or auteurs) created works that were accessible to a broad audience largely composed of classes other than those of the ridiculously wealthy. They may have been works that were by the rich, they may have been of the rich, but they decidedly were not only for the rich. However, much love stricken Anna Karenina may have suffered, acute consciousness of the social context was never far from the surface in Tolstoy, who titled one of his most famous stories Master and Man. And while the comedies of the ’30s contained a certain real-estate porn element, ultimately the point of setting the films on mammoth estates was not to set the audience ooohing and ahhing at the silver soup tureens, but to set up laughs when the tureen went flying and everyone got turtle soup all over their tuxedo fronts; the grander the staircase, the bigger the pratfall down it.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

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