Sofia Coppola's Somewhere Wins Top Prize At Venice
Somewhere , Sofia Coppola's take on Hollywood celebrity, won the top Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival today (Saturday). The film stars Stephen Dorff as a Hollywood star, whose aimless, dissolute life is lifted when his 12-year-old daughter, played by Elle Fanning, comes to visit. The film received decidedly mixed reviews after its screening earlier in the week. Todd McCarthy, the former Variety critic who now writes for Indiewire.com, remarked, "It's a toss-up as to whether the film is about vacuity or is simply vacuous itself." Peter Bradshaw wrote in Britain's Guardian "Weirdly, the movie looks like an acidly satirical comedy about L.A. celebrity but with all the acidly satirical comedy removed." But Geoffrey MacNab in the London Independent wrote that "Coppola's achievement is to have made an affecting and quietly funny film about such an unsympathetic character." And Damon Wise at Empire magazine praised the film as "a familiar but still studied and affecting piece that functions nicely as a character study but ever better as a piece of art." That was clearly the way the Venice jury regarded the movie as well. "From that first enchanted screening it grew and grew in our hearts, in our minds, in our affections," jury president Quentin Tarantino said, noting that the decision had been unanimous. (Coppola and Tarantino were regarded as a prominent Hollywood couple about six years ago and reportedly remain close friends.) The festival's Silver Lion for best director went to Spain's Alex de la Iglesia for A Sad Trumpet Ballad ( Balada triste de trompeta ) , an allegorical comedy in which a "sad" circus clown and a "happy" one vie for the affections of a beautiful acrobat, with the two clowns serving as proxies for the two sides of Spain's civil war. Vincent Gallo, a perennial -- and often controversial -- visitor to the leading film festivals as a writer/director, received the best actor award for his performance as an American Taliban in Jerzy Skolimowski's Essential Killing. (Gallo, who had his own film entered in the Venice competition, did not take the stage to accept the trophy.) French actress Ariane Labed took the best actress award for Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari's Attenberg.