Johnny Marco(Stephen Dorff) is a successful Hollywood actor who currently lives in a hotel named Chateau Marmont in LA. He has reached a stage in his life where he has no purpose. So, he spends his time partying, drinking and having mindless sex whenever there is an opportunity! His wife and his daughter does not live with him. At times, his wife drops his daughter Cleo(Elle Fanning) under his custody for a few hours.
Suddenly one day, Johnny is entrusted with Cleo for a few days. His wife wants some time off and instructs him to take care of Cleo. With Cleo around, Johnny is unable to continue his previous lifestyle. He takes Cleo everywhere he goes including the movie promotions in Italy. How Cleo affects Johnny’s reckless lifestyle and also outlook towards life forms the rest of the story.
Sofia Coppola directs this drama which reiterates that cinema is in fact a director’s craft. The movie deals with a few days in the life of Johnny Marco, clearly demarcating the life before, during and after he spends time alone with his daughter. In reality, Johnny leads a fast but hollow life. Sofia successfully demonstrates the aimlessness, hollowness and loneliness in Johnny’s life. There are many instances of this. When Johnny watches the two pole dancers, who are in fact twins, in his room, the emphasis is on the boredom. When Johnny is invited by the girl next door to make love, he does that in a very casual way depicting a routine that has lost a sense of excitement. All through the movie, the camera is carefully placed to show the actors in a constricted space. This effectively captures the mood of the scene – be it boredom, affection or helplessness. The only minus point of the movie is it’s abrupt ending.
The performances are overshadowed by the direction. Yet, Elle Fanning delivers an endearing performance in this movie. The affection with which Cleo prepares food for her dad, the condescending look on Cleo’s face on finding her dad’s lover in their room and Cleo’s worries about her mom are all beautifully captured by Elle.
This is recommended for art house lovers.