Hazy teenage summers, evenings spent in self-reflection in a strange hotel bar, a movie star failing to connect with his daughter at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, or wealthy teenagers rolling around in outfits stolen from their favourite stars – the films of Sofia Coppola slide us into worlds of languid luxury, populated with characters grasping for something solid.
Raised amongst celebrity, Coppola comprehends the perils and pitfalls of wealth and glamour, as much as its inherent allure. With killer soundtracks and a sensual approach to image, she introduces us to teenage girls and young women trying to find their feet in the world, and, sometimes, the older men who never found their footing.
Timed to coincide with the 4k re-release of Coppola’s debut feature The Virgin Suicides (28 July – 1 August), Sheffield’s Showroom have lined up a retrospective of the autuer’s first five movies scheduled to last all summer long. The season of film includes a visit from Hannah Strong, author of Sofia Coppola: Forever Young who will introduce the screening of The Virgin Suicides on Tuesday 1 August.
Also showing as part of the season is Lost in Translation (4 – 10 Aug), in which Bill Murray’s movie star and Scarlett Johansson’s newlywed meet in Tokyo and bond over a mutual sense of disillusionment. In Marie Antoinette (4 – 10 Aug) Coppola takes a thrilling, post-modern approach to the much-maligned queen of France, casting Kirsten Dunst as a young woman thrust into a world of simultaneous constraint and excess – along with a belting post-punk soundtrack.
The real joys of a retrospective like Showroom’s Summer of Sofia is in seeing the rarely screened works on the big screen. In this case, we’re doubly excited, as the last two films scheduled – Somewhere and The Bling Ring – are not only Coppola’s best, but seldom make an appearance on the revival circuit.
Set on Coppola’s home turf, in Hollywood’s exclusive enclaves, Somewhere (11 – 17 Aug) is an insider’s perspective of life and (too much) leisure in the movie business as an adrift film star (Steven Dorff) struggles to find common ground with his teenage daughter (Elle Fanning). The flipside of that is The Bling Ring (11 – 17 Aug), a pulsating, ripped-from-the-headlines account of a gang of teens who plan burglaries based upon the gossip pages of TMZ.
As Strong writes, Coppola utilises a “unapologetically hyperfeminine aesthetic” as she approaches themes of ennui and alienation. Sometimes this has been undervalued by critics, or her work too quickly dismissed on grounds of her position of privilege (her father Francis Ford Coppola directed The Godfather), but Strong’s book and Showroom’s retrospective position the director as an artist to be reckoned with – we just can’t wait to watch the movies again.