According to Bordwell (2008) art cinema is a cinema of reaction not action; of psychological effects in search of their causes. Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere is a brilliant example of this as it subverts the classical Hollywood narrative of cause and effect as it examines the emptiness of celebrity life. The movie uses minimal dialogue, a non-existent soundtrack, visual symbolism and the action of the characters to convey it’s story.
The opening scene of Somewhere shows a car racing in a circle. The scene is set up with a stationary camera and the car moves into and out of frame several times. The car stops in front of the camera and a man gets out, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff). He looks around, his face showing a lack of emotion, and the scene ends. This scene is paralleled at the end when Marco checks out of the hotel and drives off to an indeterminate location. This time the car is placed in front of the camera, centred in the frame, always moving away from it until he pulls over on a long stretch of empty road, gets out and starts to walk with a slight smile on his face. By using these scenes to bookend the movie Coppola has visually conveyed the growth of the character without explicitly saying it (as that wouldn’t be realistic).
However, this still leaves questions unanswered. Who was harassing Marco by text? Where is he going? What brought on his ex-wife’s breakdown? This is but another aspect of the art film: the ambiguous ending. “Art film reasserts that ambiguity is the dominant principle of intelligibility, that we are to watch less for the tale than the telling, that life lacks the neatness of art and this art knows it” (Bordwell 2008, p. 156).