Not only Netflix is conquering the silver screen. Apple TV+ is releasing Sofia Coppola's On the Rocks at Cinema Palace and Vendôme, three weeks before the film's debut on the streaming channel.
Only seeing Sofia Coppola's new film on the small screen? A number of Belgian cinemas could not allow that to happen. As a result, On the Rocks, a production for Apple TV+ that can only be seen on the streaming platform as of 23 October, is now being released exclusively at a select number of cinemas. The only two in Brussels that are showing the film are Cinema Palace and Vendôme.
You can then watch the film for a second and a third time on Apple TV+, which is highly recommended because a second or third viewing of Sofia Coppola's films is usually even more enjoyable. Just think of The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, Somewhere, The Bling Ring, The Beguiled... By focusing less on the content, themes, and possible message, and not getting lost in inessentials – her films are about privileged people, so what? Her father Francis Ford directed The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, so what? – you tend to notice the dream-like or melancholy, cinematic expression more. Coppola can express herself in film, which is a talent not many film directors possess. Even when she moves toward a Woody Allen-type romantic comedy like she does here.
In On the Rocks, an author who is approaching forty spends more time than she would like taking care of her two daughters and keeping chats with other mothers at the school gate to a socially acceptable minimum. A bizarre moment in bed, a toilet bag, his absence, and his colleague's long legs lead Laura to suspect that her husband is cheating. She recruits her father, who comes up with the craziest plans to discover the truth, like tailing him across the middle of New York in a blood-red vintage Alfa Romeo with starting problems.
A semi-spoiler: fundamentally, On the Rocks is less about a marriage in crisis than it is about her father's outdated ideas about women and relationships. Felix is a bon vivant and semi-retired art dealer who made enough money to be able to afford caviar, a chauffeur-driven car, distant holidays, and the most exquisite clubs and restaurants in New York. There is no chance of getting bored in his company. But his hedonistic life did result in divorce and his well-meaning constant flirting with anyone in a skirt has become simply embarrassing. Would Sofia Coppola ever deign to answer the question of whether there is a shade of her own father in Felix?
The dissolute character gives Bill Murray as well as the washed-out actor from Lost in Translation every opportunity to excel at Murraymatica. Nobody can film Murray as well as Coppola, except perhaps Jim Jarmusch or Wes Anderson. But we sympathize with Laura, and sometimes drift off into midlife melancholy. With profound love for her father but not blind to his shortcomings, she is stuck in a luxurious but lonely, banal, and demanding life. It is not Murray but Rashida Jones who pulls the saddest faces, while Chet Baker does Chet Baker. The role ought to result in many more leading roles.
This apparently flighty cocktail comedy by the ever-refined Sofia Coppola will again be underestimated sooner than it is overestimated.
ON THE ROCKS •••
US, dir.: Sofia Coppola, act.: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans