Movies generally have a soundtrack. It's essential post-production fodder in the film industry; most flicks wouldn't be complete without one; it keeps the action rolling, and raises certain expectations: slow 80s beats or string quartets can get us and our on-screen friends a little hot under the collar; whilst the crashing of a symbol might make us think of something a little more 007...

A film's soundtrack, however important whilst viewing a movie, is often left from the all-important post-film-pub-analysis. And therein lies the definition of an ingenious soundtrack: It's worth talking about over a pint. There's many outstanding examples of soundtracks, and they all 'work' for various reasons. But it can often be little things that help transform a collection of sounds from counterpart to stand-alone filmic ingredient, and for Somewhere, one of these little things is human association.

Photobucket

Somewhere is a-typical Coppola; an indulgent piece about the life of an empty film star and his distanced daughter. Towards the films closing moments, however, we see hints of realisation for the troubled Johnny Marco; moments triggering the second insertion of the latter of two Phoenix tracks book-ending the film, 'Love Like A Sunset Part 1 + 2'. What is particularly appealing is the nostalgia expressed by the closing track; a nostalgia which harps back musically to the opening of the movie, and to a fairytale image of love:

Where it starts it ends/Love like a Sunset.

'Part 1' lays down a perfectly calculating introduction, grasping at a sense of anticipation; whilst 'Part 2' works towards revelation, mirrored in the films' closing minutes, adding a gentle, pulsating and generous accompaniment to a new chapter in Marco's life. Regardless of musical knowledge, a wonderful sense of completeness arises by the end of the movie; as both these tracks carry the same 'sound', forcing you to consider the start at its very end, naturally evaluating Marco's journey.

Interestingly, too, the film is often lacking in music. Coppola may argue this is to accentuate a void of emotion in her often difficult central character, and further question audience expectation, and for the latter she is correct. However, instead of creating intrigue, she often leaves you drawing blanks. In between these silences, though, Coppola plays the joker of her pack; laying down aesthetically appealing tracks which individually compliment the visual quality of the movie; helping 'narrate' an otherwise narrative bleakness.

This trust she ensues in the sounds is apparent in their lengthy playing time; and that each track is presented in extremely testing ways: music isn't used purely to 'suit the mood.' A solid example of Coppola stepping back and allowing the music to 'speak' is the use of Gwen Stefani's 'Coo'l.

Photobucket

The track constructs a beautiful display of childhood perseverance, as Elle Fanning's character rigorously practices an Ice-Skating routine to youthful, electronic twangs which declare 'I know we're cool'. Innocence is unveiled through a melodic simplicity; which does well to display the importance of this father-daughter relationship. Intrinsically, though, this innocence stems from something more thematic:A father's ability to miss so many family moments like this. There is more of the same with Amerie's '1 Thing', playing seductively whilst two flaccid looking poll dancers' swing their limp bodies around. The dancers don't appeal, and we can deduce that Marco needs anything but that 'one thing'...!

Extinguishing all else in terms of it's visual, Avant-Garde affect is the trailer-featured scene in a swimming pool, as an acoustic version of The Strokes’ 'I’ll try anything Once' harps over what is easily the most movie's most empathic scene. It may be that watching the pair actually doing something makes this scene special, (the film is full of naturally under-developed ambling, which grows harder and harder to 'ponder' over), but the quality of this musical incision creates stunning effect. It is the acoustic version, and Casablanca's wretched sincerity shines. While he sings about relationships, it's clear that the paternal one on screen is a bond which supersedes anything sexual. There is almost too much beauty in the underwater frivolity, and a subtlety, relayed through pangs of hope in Julian Casablancas’ voice mirrors the sense of potential for companionship: just once, the life of Johnny Marco seems alive.

Simply, it is scenes like this that make the soundtrack so exceptional. It works not only in conjunction, but often delivers the narrative through a combination of visual and musical display; creating pure and spontaneous emotive responses within the audience.

The film itself is a stable addition to Sofia Coppola’s canon; but Somewhere's soundtrack excels due to its’ performative aspects; its' ability to make key moments shine; providing important clues into Coppola’s artistic train of thought. Whether or not this was her intention seems far gone; but the novelistic use of tracks pushing narrative and stylistic content allows the movie to be knotted together; encouraging us to see unusual aesthetic beauty in a film which might have been better off telling the story of a happy and successful film star. In 2011, that would be far more ground breaking.

Still, music speaks above and critically, for all else in Somewhere.


Tracklist:

  • 1. Phoenix - 'Love Like a Sunset Part I'
  • 2. William Storkson - 'Ghandi Fix'
  • 3. Foo Fighters - 'My Hero' '
  • 4. The Police - 'So Lonely'
  • 5. Amerie- ' 1 Thing'
  • 6 . T.Rex - '20th Century Boy'
  • 7. Gwen Stefani - 'Cool'
  • 8. Paolo Jannacci - 'Che si fa'
  • 9. Romulo - 'Teddy Bear'
  • 10. Kiss - 'Love Theme From Kiss'
  • 11. The Strokes - 'I’ll Try Anything Once'
  • 12. Sebastian Tellier - 'Look'
  • 13. Bryan Ferry - 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes'
  • 14. William Storkson - 'Massage Music'
  • 15. Phoenix - ' Love Like A Sunset Part II'