January 13, 2011

 Greetings again from the darkness. My reaction to this film is that no way it gets made and no way anyone would care … unless Sophia Coppola was involved. With her involvement, our approach as a viewer is totally different. She has lived this life and, more importantly, observed this life since she was an infant. She captures details and minutiae that no other writer or director would even sense.

Stephen Dorff plays Johnny Marco, a very successful movie star who is holed up at the infamous Château Marmont. This is the Hollywood retreat where celebs go to disappear for awhile. Marco has gone a step beyond retreat. He is lost.  Lost as a person. Even his daughter Cleo, played by Elle Fanning, can’t “find” him. He dutifully fulfills his movie star responsibilities: press junkets, photography sessions, awards ceremonies, etc. He plays video games with his daughter with the same emotion that he poses for pictures or answers questions from reporters. He is a shell of a man and he is beginning to see that himself.

The film displays all the trappings of stardom and shows that no stream of Ferrari’s, strippers, fans, supermodels, international trips or pile of money can bring personal fulfillment. The man that has everything can still have nothing. Sound a bit depressing? Well it is. But it’s also a nice little peek behind the celebrity curtain.  The film could even be a fun parlor game with all the relatives of famous people who play some minor role … another tip of the cap to Ms. Coppola’s background.

 A ride in the elevator with Benecio del Toro (presumably a Marmont guest) is no more substantive than a party in his room filled with beautiful people who just want to be seen … or do what some people do with celebrities. Isolation can happen in plain site and Ms. Coppola has proven herself to be quite the expert with this film and her even better film, Lost in Translation.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you would like a peek behind the curtain of celebrity and the Chateau Marmont

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: slow moving films put you to sleep … don’t pay $10 for a nap!