By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Much like Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola’s latest film feels very personal and expressive of the filmmaker’s feelings and life experiences. At the same time, though, this latest entry in her filmography lacks the same level of emotion, introspection, and joie de vivre. Nevertheless, I see a real kinship between the two films and some of this has to do with the welcome presence of Bill Murray. With Bill Murray again in the mix, Sofia Coppola has crafted another engaging and alluring movie that depicts a very different kind of relationship between its leads. Even though On The Rocks never reaches the transcendent levels its spiritual predecessor does, it has enough to say about life, people, and relationships to keep audiences invested and entertained.
Rashida Jones stars as Laura, a writer who has been struggling with writers block while remaining a dutiful wife to husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) and loving mother to Maya (Liyanna Muscat) and Theo (Alexandra Mary Reiner). When not caring for her daughters, Laura struggles to rediscover her voice as a writer. This allows her worried mind to focus on the flaws in her marriage which leads to focusing on suspicions that her husband might be having an affair. To make matters worse, Dean is often away from home, either working night after night or on yet another business trip.
In order to get some insightful advice from a known playboy, Laura consults her father Felix (Murray). Felix jumps at the opportunity to help his daughter and assists with her investigation. As the the once estranged father and daughter begin working together, they truly relish the time they end up spending together. However, Felix might possibly be doing more harm than good, as his low opinion of most men is purely a reflection of his own shortcomings.
Written and directed by Coppola, On The Rocks is a highly lovable and charming comedy that focuses on relationships between spouses, and parents and their children. As I stated above, the film never gets quite as deep and philosophical about the human condition as Lost In Translation, but nevertheless offers some genuine insight and commentary about people and the importance of communication in relationships. The movie might not be Sofia Coppola’s finest contribution to cinema, but it is still a solid indicator of her intelligence, experience, and natural wit.
Casting Bill Murray in the role of Felix is an absolute no-brainer. In the film, Felix comes across as a real extension of the actor’s public persona. Felix is a truly charming and disarming personality who has a passionate zeal for life. Whiskey, women, and song are his passions, but these loves prove also to be his weaknesses that have caused him relationship woes. Rashida Jones is no slouch in the role of Laura. She ably portrays Laura as a smart, but obviously insecure woman, whose distrust of men stems from her own father’s mistakes. Jones gives Laura a palpable guarded quality that contributes to her suspicions of her husband and her struggle as a writer.
The two leads share a credible chemistry as father and daughter in the film that adds to both the comedy and poignancy. This chemistry, along with the casting of Murray, and Coppola’s insight on relationships are what make this movie a near-spiritual sequel to Lost In Translation. But like most sequels, this film doesn’t deliver the same magic as its predecessor. Still, On The Rocks is a movie I would highly recommend, as it is more enjoyable, charming, and smarter than a lot of other movies of its kind.
ON THE ROCKS will be available on Apple TV+ starting Friday, October 23. ON THE ROCKS is an Apple Original Films and A24 Release.