Sofia Coppola, the chronicler of postmodern loneliness

When Bill murray He picked up the microphone and reluctantly sang “More than this, there is nothing”, something ignited in our subtle and bitter contemporary loneliness. It was in ‘Lost in Translation’, the film that elevated Sofia coppola, and also the one that best portrays that feeling of non-existence, canned today between Coca-Cola ads, Instagram filters and cosmopolitan crowds. That feeling of sadness that relentlessly invades us all of a sudden, traveling on the subway or checking the new posts on our Facebook wall, without really knowing why. No, it is not a premenstrual symptom; it is the emotional emptiness of those who do not find meaning in modern life.

With the premiere of ‘The Seduction’, Coppola seems to move away from that intimate universe to delve into the adaptation of the tense novel by Thomas cullinan, in which a female institution (with Nicole Kidman, Elle fanning Y Kirsten dunst head) sees his routine altered by the arrival of a wounded man (Colin farrell). But before the film that won her the Best Direction award at the last Cannes Film Festival, the actress and director had already built a very particular universe. An environment of common sensations and lost stares, in a kind of fresco of postmodern emotions submerged in the purest ‘indie’ melancholy. She speaks of her own environment (the upper class, the world of entertainment, her status as a woman in the 21st century), of the decomposed and depersonalized first world, doomed to monotony, materialism and Dorian Gray’s mirrors. His look is not complicit, but understanding. It is not critical, nor is it frivolous, but honest. Sofia Coppola is the chronicler of the loneliness that our contemporaneity needs.


What most characterizes Sofia Coppola’s cinema is that halo of loneliness, sadness, that surrounds her characters. They can be really depressed people, but also downtrodden people (‘The Virgin Suicides’) and others who have simply ascended to a level of playful amorality that hides a deep existential void (‘The Bling Ring’). Wow, people who, although they are searched, cannot be found. People who live in a moment of personal, political and social uncertainties, in which nothing is as binary as before, and in which globalization, the rise of new technologies and multiculturalism have accentuated more than ever how alone we feel.

People who travel alone, eat alone, cry alone, cloaked in melancholy more intense than the paintings of Edward Hopper or the serious countenance of Ben Affleck. With wide shots -often accompanied by a ‘zoom out’-, the director shows us the contrast between the individual and the greatness of his surroundings, from a castle to a football field. Some of them even prefer to die before remaining the footnotes of history. Others have what they want, yet still feel empty despite countless displays of excess. This is why they are characters looking for a connection. More clearly in ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘Somewhere’, we see human beings searching – for the redundancy – their humanity.

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More than once, Coppola has been accused of being frivolous, wealthy, and nepotist. And nobody can deny it: the filmmaker belongs to the ‘jet-set’ of cinema and the pink show business. Her style is elegant and wealthy, but that doesn’t invalidate her as a contemporary storyteller. Moreover, his deep knowledge of the problems of the first world, together with his undeniable talent to transmit through audiovisual, turn their films into manifestos of today’s emotional universe, as did Spike Jonze’s remarkable ‘Her’ (2013), albeit in a futuristic key. In this way we meet a Hollywood actor who suffers in silence because he is unable to combine his professional life with fatherhood (‘Somewhere’) or a recent graduate in Philosophy who has followed her boyfriend to Japan because she has not yet found out about where you want to direct your future (‘Lost in Translation’). And it doesn’t even have to be contemporary: Coppola also portrays those craving for existential relevance in a historical character like Marie Antoinette, with whom he composed one of the most disruptive films of his career.

Perhaps his most interesting (and underrated) film in this regard is ‘The Bling Ring’. In it, a group of young people led by Emma Watson are engaged in illegally entering the homes of celebrities to steal their clothes, their jewelry, their shoes, their essence. Based on a Vanity Fair report, this true story represented Coppola’s raid on that world of frivolity in which she herself lives, through a group completely devoid of any ethics and blinded by the ‘brilli-brilli’ of show business current, from Paris Hilton to Orlando Bloom. They, who took their obsession to the extreme, are part of a system that idealizes the powerful and encourages others to love what they have, to be as they are. A perverse system, with which the director composed a film based on the non-existence of those who only live through the fascination of the people who appear in Hola magazine.


When you decide to use the music of The strokes To illustrate a film about the most ‘chic’ French queen of the 18th century, the filmmaker perpetrates a break both in History and in the viewers’ own senses. Namely: your musical choice is not arbitrary or capricious, but decisive in the personality and the future of its characters. In fact, we started this article by quoting a song, which is perhaps the icing on the cake for a film as melancholic as ‘Lost in Translation’: beyond what surrounds us, there is nothing, because only in Hollywood movies can you live stories of perennial feelings. And it only took one line of a song at the right time to say it.

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Even so, when music cannot understand the immensity of emptiness, we always have silence, something in which Coppola is also a teacher. And it is that, Is there a better sound to portray loneliness than the very absence of it? That intimate gaze, whether with music or silence, is transferred back to a thriller like ‘The Seduction’, one of his most recent works. Yet another sample of the filmmaker’s ability to delve into the psyche of her characters, and which confirms (in case she hadn’t already done so) that she is far from the grandstanding of her father, Francis Ford Coppola.

No, Sofia bets on the little (big) stories that act as a mirror of our society.

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