Year:  2020

Director:  Sofia Coppola

Rated:  M

Release:  October 23, 2020

Distributor: Apple Films

Running time: 97 minutes

Worth: $18.50
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Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jenny Slate

...a fine-cut jewel of a film, and one to savour.

Though Sofia Coppola boasts a high-water-mark resume stacked with top-tier but occasionally under-appreciated films (The Virgin Suicides, Somewhere, The Beguiled, The Bling Ring) and marred by only one major disappointment (Marie Antoinette), the jewel in her crown is unquestionably 2003’s Oscar nominee, Lost In Translation. Her new film, On The Rocks – which sees Coppola reunite with the great Bill Murray after Lost In Translation and the Netflix curio, A Very Murray Christmas – is being tagged a throwback to her biggest hit. With its loose, largely plotless vibe and the full-tilt charm offensive mounted by Murray, it’s not a wholly unfair comparison, but it’s also a somewhat lazy one. On The Rocks is its own gorgeously understated beast, and it’s actually closer to the director’s wholly underrated 2010 errant-father-right-headed-daughter effort, Somewhere than it is to Lost In Translation.

Gifted with the best big screen role of her career so far, talented comic actress Rashida Jones is fantastic as the rumpled, always-on-the-back-foot Laura, a harried, put-upon mother and wannabe writer who is slowly starting to suspect that her tech nerd husband, Dean (the slightly miscast Marlon Wayans), might be having an affair with an attractive work colleague. Pursuing a little fatherly support and advice, Laura perhaps unwisely turns to her dad Felix (Bill Murray has an absolute ball with the role, but also excavates its obvious sadness too), a semi-retired art dealer and man-about-town who enjoys flirting with every woman that crosses his path and throwing out very un-PC dissertations on the relations between the sexes. When Felix proposes that they follow Dean around town – complete with binoculars – in order to assess his fidelity, the film becomes a kooky, dialogue-heavy father-daughter ramble that also has a lot to say about men and women, parental responsibility, and personal accountability.

The effortlessly cool Sofia Coppola has a profound gift for understatement (the only film of her famous father that she seems to have taken any influence from is The Conversation), and for making films that say a lot while not saying it loudly. She also knows how to get everything out of her actors, and Bill Murray and Rashida Jones have a wonderful chemistry here, bouncing off each other beautifully. The dialogue sparkles, and every line feels real and well-earned, with years of family history ingeniously distilled into just a few sentences. The film’s denouement, while typically low-key, is also almost brutally bittersweet, and stands as a characteristically quiet masterstroke from Sofia Coppola. While On The Rocks boasts an abundance of frothy, fizzy charm, it also cuts deep when it comes to the complexity of family ties and modern relationships. This is a fine-cut jewel of a film, and one to savour.


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