• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

How Sofia Coppola uses her work to tell her life story

ByRandall B. Phelps

May 14, 2022

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has their own cross to bear. Everyone wants to be found. But very few have the luxury of having a way to tell their own stories and make themselves known to the world. Sophie Coppola is one of those very lucky people called filmmakers, who have the vision and creativity to tell their stories in a visually engaging way that we mere mortals can only appreciate, but never create ourselves. If she has made films that deal with universal subjects of our time, since her first success lost in translation at its most recent, On the rockshis works are also deeply personal pieces – which adds a very interesting layer to his entire career.


Being the daughter of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time couldn’t have been easy. We all entertain the idea of ​​just accepting what our parents say, or we feel like we’re supposed to live up to what they want for us, but imagine what that was probably like for a kid of Francis Ford Coppola. Although his heirs never mentioned being pressured into following a specific career, when you’re Hollywood royalty, it’s hard not to naturally gravitate towards the movie world. Everything is too close. Sofia and her siblings must have grown up following her family wherever her father’s career took them at this very moment, as shown in the excellent documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypseon the manufacture of Revelation now. This, added to the fact that she was the only daughter of her generation in the Coppola family and her great taste for music, are the characteristic features of her vision as a filmmaker.

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Sofia Coppola’s first artistic effort is often considered one of her darkest, but it has already shown its promise. In virgins who committed suicide, his now iconic aesthetic is front and center; the most important aspect to see. The pastel color palette leans into girly and feminine themes, establishing a visual style that would become synonymous with her own identity as a fledgling filmmaker – not “Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter”. As dark as it sounds, the tale also touches on the subject of female loneliness and isolation, something she herself had to endure growing up in the shadow of strong presences. Ultimately, the Lisbon girls were rebellious in nature, which only Sofia could have described so accurately.

This rebellion is also present in her next three films, all of which constitute an inadvertently autobiographical trilogy, with clear avatars for Coppola herself. lost in translation, Marie Antoinette, and Somewhere are all about growing up as displaced people in the world we live in, but each with their own particular aspects. In lost in translationthe whole creates an alienating feeling, all compounded by her perception of growing up as a woman always on the move. Scarlett Johansson‘s Charlotte is the perfect avatar for Coppola in this moment, finding his understanding of his place as a person, artist and romantic partner. At the time, she was going through painful divorce proceedings with another filmmaker Spike Jonzewhich was assumed to be represented by John Ribisiis John in the movie.

Although not as acclaimed as its predecessor, Marie Antoinette is the most “Sofia-esque” of Coppola’s films. All the typical traits of her as an artist are present, both narratively and aesthetically. The correlation between the French dynasty and its own family is clear. After the success of lost in translation, she was considered “the next Coppola” in film – and that’s a huge burden to bear on any shoulder. Although Marie Antoinette – the historical figure – has often been seen as an example of the emptiness of absolutism, the perspective of Coppola and Kirsten DunstThe depiction of transformed her into a nuanced character. The entry of young women into these very traditional and masculine environments – for Coppola it was Hollywood, for Antoinette it was the French court – inevitably proves to be a challenge, because they are often critical and doubtful of the young women in leadership positions. This, combined with the pastel palette and its typical indie soundtrack, makes it the ultimate Sofia Coppola film.

Somewhere is probably his least appreciated film, despite winning prestigious awards such as the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. While Stephen DorfJohnny Marco is not an easy character to understand, Elle FanningChloe is a scene stealer. She is the soul of the film, and Coppola’s most positive take on herself to date, again drawing from her experience following her father while growing up and imagining herself as the female presence in a male environment. , a transformative force in the life of the protagonist. But Somewhere is a bit too repetitive in its references to Coppola’s upbringing and while Chloe is Coppola’s avatar, Johnny ends up embodying said stagnation. The need for reinvention was clear and led to The bling ring three years later to more mixed reviews – the least recognizable of his films, though elegant nonetheless.

His real return to form came seduced him, a film that shows her maturing as an artist and is a stark counterpoint to her last two entries. With a more adult tone, Coppola uses his typical color palette to paint a worried and suspenseful image. The feminine aesthetic is meant to engulf the sole male protagonist, Colin Farrelit’s McBurney. Whereas in previous films this was used as a way to reaffirm female identity in a male world, now it changes the perspective. seduced him is also Coppola’s most sexual work, because although sexuality was present in his early films, it is now an important part of the narrative.

In On the rocks, Sofia Coppola finally seems to be setting a tone for her work. She’s back to using her own experience as the basis for a story, now as a middle-aged woman with a great legacy that people expect her to fulfill. While it’s not particularly memorable and tries too hard to be considered a lighthearted comedy, On the rocks sees Coppola come to terms with the fact that his best work comes from his own perspective on life. She uses her husband Thomas Mars‘ constantly tours with his band Phoenix as a tool for his story and brings back the impending father figure with another of his favorite collaborators, Bill Murray.

Now, it’s hard to predict what the next move could be for any filmmaker, especially Sofia Coppola. She still hasn’t announced anything for the near future, but it looks like she’s at a new stage in her career, one in which she’s more comfortable with herself as an artist and where she finds herself. is part of his family heritage.

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