Johhny Marco is a Hollywood movie star and a bit of a hedonistic rogue. Though he has fame, money, and does socialize from time to time, he lives a mostly solitary and isolated existence at the Chateau Marmont Hotel. The film follows him as he spends his time wasting away in suite drinking, popping pills, getting visits from women, and doing typical Hollywood stuff like photoshoots, getting special effects makeup applied, press conferences, and going to an awards ceremony. He gets some pleasure out of it, sure (or we'd like to think), but he's really emptionally gone, burnt out, and most of all, bored. Johnny's life begins to slowly change when he gets an unexpected visit from his daughter Cleo. They start to spend some more time together and these experiences make Johnny re-examine his life, the state it's in, and his purpose.
The film has no real plot, and is instead a character study/mood piece examing Johhny's life, and a side of celebrity that makes them seem as bored and ordinary as the rest of us. Yeah, that's right, this is a study in boredom, and, it's actually better than I was thinking it might be given the mixed reviews. The themes being dealt with are that of ennui (boredom), family, and the hollowness of celebrity. Rather than be a bitter or spieful satire like say Sunset Boulevard, this is a more subdued, and minimilasit look at celebrity life.
Sure, the film is a tad melancholy, but it's not really depressing, and it wisely avoids being overly sentimental with how it depicts Johnny's relationship with his daughter. Oh sure, there's some staples of "bonding" moments, but the film doesn't feel hammy or cliched, and instead kinda seemed a little genuine. Coppola said the film has somewhat inspired by her own life, but that the film was not autobiographical.
It's only 98 minutes long, but as you may have heard, the pace is kinda slow. It's never felt tedious or boring though (to me at least). I have ADHD and I felt rahter engaged . WHat I liked about the movie, but what also made it hard for me to watch, was that I could relate to what I was seeing because my own life is a lot like Johnny's in that I spend a lot fo time alone in my apartment detached from the world and not really doing a whole lot. Just because I got through the film though, doesn't mean everyoen will. It's not for everyone. If you like seeing a film that is relaxed and doesn't feel the need to rush through things, then you might like this. Though he is distant, the film does do a decent job of establishing that Marco is a kinda likeable.
The casting is pretty good, and it all feels very naturalistic and right. Dorff is pretty good as Johnny Marco and conveys the feelings of emptiness and boredom pretty well. He hasn't always been there for his kid, but he does care for her and tries to be a good guy. Elle Fanning is probably the one to watch here though. I like her sister, but this is her coming into her own and she does a good job playing a "showbiz" kid. She has perhaps a bit more worldly wisdom than most 11 years olds, but she still comes off as being a kid who has a lot yet to learn. He's not in it for a whole lot, but Chris Pontius also does a good job as Johnny's old friend Sammy, and it's nice seeing Pontius branch out and do something different than the Jackass type stuff that made him famous. I'd like to see him in more work, especially stuff like this.
All in all, this is a decent movie. I'd give it *ahem* somewhere between a B and a B+. It's one you have to be in the mood for, but if a leisurely pced slice of life story about bordeom sounds like what you want to see ,then go for it. It is admittedly a bit pretentious, but I've seen far more boring, meandering, and pretentious stuff than this, and those things made this seem breakneck, so there.