Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Barbara Bain.
Seventeen years after they collaborated on Lost In Translation, Bill Murray is reunited with director Sofia Coppola for this light-weight examination of complicated father/daughter relationships, identity, and a study of a marriage in crisis. The film seems to hold something of a deeper personal significance for Coppola herself and it is tinged with a melancholy tone.
Laura (Rashida Jones, from tv’s Parks And Recreation, etc) is a struggling writer who is married to Dean (Marlon Wayans), who is busy trying to establish his own start-up tech company. His work involves a lot of travel, often leaving Laura home alone to raise their two daughters. But then Laura begins to suspect that Dean may be having an affair with a co-worker. Then her eccentric, aging playboy father Felix (Murray), a retired art dealer and serial philanderer, comes back into her life and fans the flames of suspicion further. Felix begins to play amateur detective, and Laura gets swept along as they creep around the late-night bars and clubs of New York. But Laura soon comes to realise that Felix may just be projecting his own past and experiences onto Dean and she is forced to re-evaluate her own relationship with him.
On The Rocks is fairly lightweight stuff, a slight and largely forgettable romantic comedy directed with minimal fuss but without any real sense of urgency by Coppola. She maintains a light, subtle touch throughout. The film is largely dialogue driven, with lots of playful exchanges between Laura and Felix, even though much of the dialogue itself is uninteresting.
There is great chemistry between Jones and Murray which helps enliven the material greatly. Murray is perfectly cast here and brings his usual lugubrious style, dry wit, charm, and world-weary approach to his performance. Jones’ performance is more introverted and internal.
Coppola is certainly a stylish filmmaker with a strong sense of place. Cinematographer Phiippe Le Sourd (who also shot Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled) makes good use of the New York locations, in particular some arresting night-time visuals that capture the city at its finest. The jazz influenced score by Phoenix also adds to the jaunty mood of the film.
On The Rocks may be spiritually close to Lost In Translation but it is nowhere near as engaging or memorable.
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