Johnny Marco (Dorff) is a top movie star who lives in Hollywood's secluded Chateau Marmont. He's promoting his action movie, Berlin Agenda, with his costar (Monaghan) while preparing for his next project. And he's also taking care of his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Fanning). Their life consists mainly of sitting around, travelling to Italy for a junket and then to Las Vegas for Cleo's summer camp. All of which gives Johnny a chance to seduce various women and ponder his own existence.
Everyone's reaction indicates that Johnny is a famous bad-boy actor. And we know immediately that he's bored with this when he falls asleep while twin pole-dancers perform a hilarious routine in his room. It's refreshing that Johnny's not an overwritten caricature, he's also rather sketchy. Dorff does what he can with the role, but he's neither charismatic nor sympathetic, and the only thing we like about him is his relationship with his daughter.
This lack of identity leaves the film feeling somewhat cold, despite strong acting from Fanning and some lively one-scene roles along the way. Together, Dorff and Fanning find strong father-daughter chemistry that gives the film some badly needed warmth. And the script is full of intriguing mysteries, such as the abusive text messages Johnny receives from a blocked phone number. But none of this quite resonates into something meaningful, and we're left to work out for ourselves what Coppola may be trying to say.
The film looks terrific, as Coppola directs scenes with her usual unhurried artistry. Harris Savides' cinematography looks as gorgeous as always, and the way he captures the eerie limbo of the jet-set lifestyle is cleverly offhanded.
There are some telling, funny and emotional scenes along the way, and the film really captures the tedium of the celebrity life, in which your time is not your own. But it's hard to feel that Johnny's emptiness has to do with anything beyond his own personality. He was probably like this before he became famous.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 3rd September 2010
Box Office USA: $1.8M
Distributed by: Focus Features
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 128 Rotten: 51
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Sofia Coppola
Screenwriter: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Stephen Dorff as Johnny Marco, Chris Pontius as Sammy, Erin Wasson as Party Girl #1, Alexandra Williams as Party Girl #2, Nathalie Fay as Party Girl #3, Kristina Shannon as Bambi, Karissa Shannon as Cindy, John Prudhont as Chateau Patio Waiter, Ruby Corley as Patio Girl, Angela Lindvall as Blonde in Mercedes, Maryna Linchuk as Vampire Model, Meghan Collision as Vampire Model, Jessica Miller as Vampire Model, Elle Fanning as Cleo, Lala Sloatman as Layla, Eliza Coupe as Hotel Room Neighbor, Ellie Kemper as Claire, Michelle Monaghan as Rebecca, Laura Ramsey as Naked Blonde with Sailor Cap