There is a litany of reasons why Sofia Coppola‘s script for ‘Somewhere‘ isn’t remarkable. It’s a finger’s breath at 44 pages long. The main character floats about in repetitious scenes, not doing much. Characters come and go, staying on the page for simple moments, not leaving much of an impression on the reader.
The premise of ‘Somewhere‘ — we watch as a bored celebrity mills about doing boring things until he realizes he doesn’t want to be bored anymore, then the film ends.
For as horrible as the script could be described, it is also a calming read, like listening to new age music while getting a massage. It’s not going after a story per se. It reads like a long form poem.
On page 3 it reads —
INT. JOHNNY’S SUITE – NIGHT
He smokes a cigarette and waits for something. What to do next. In real time we watch him smoke and wait.
We watch our main character (Stephen Dorff) smoke a cigarette and wait. That’s it? How long does that take? Five minutes, if that? Maybe more?
Sofia Coppola, Academy Award nominee, thought, ‘Hey, you know what this script needs? A long smoking scene.’
But, Sofia, you ask, what should Stephen Dorff be doing while he smokes?
‘What should he be doing? Well. Fuck. He should be waiting is what he should be doing. We’ll watch him smoke a cigarette and wait.’
I would love to say that this is the only scene that plays out this way in the script, but it is not. We watch this scene, repeated. He eats. He pops pills. He drinks. He sleeps. He walks around. He eats. He pops pills. Et al., etc., on and on…
After reading the script it became like listening to a favorite album. My favorite metal album, Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets‘ plays out the same. One metal song followed by another metal song. There might be slight changes; one song (i.e., scene) slightly slower, darker, the next faster, aggressive, but overall, the album is metal through and through.
This script — there might be slight changes but no matter what happens, it maintains its tone of chill.
A lot of this film depends on Stephen Dorff’s performance and Sofia Coppola’s direction. If I, or any other unproven screenwriter had written the 44 page script to ‘Somewhere,’ it wouldn’t have gotten beyond our hard drive. John August can attest to that.
I haven’t seen ‘Somewhere’ the film but if my purchasing habits are true, according to my memory and Amazon’s cache are anything to be trusted, I will be buying the DVD. What I find interesting is after reading the script and not seeing the film, I can imagine what the movie would be like. Call it what you will; a familiarity with Ms. Coppola’s work or deft script, or even both, the words she wrote came across visually clear as well as compelling. If I had received the PDF of the script from one of the writer’s I give notes to, I don’t think I would have been able to be as kind as I am in my opinion as I am to Sofia Coppola. In the end it’s all about execution, or the promise of execution.
I do love this script, mainly for all of the rules it breaks. It’s boring, it has unlikable characters that don’t go through any changes and have no goals, there are no great character arcs, it’s an incredibly slow and steady drawn out single scene written in 44 pages that you know will be turned into 2 hours of boring people being bored on screen and I love that about it. It’s a giant fuck you. It’s a giant I don’t give a shit.
It’s a giant statement of a writer saying, ‘This is what I do.’
That’s what I love.