Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks is the story of a woman who seeks the help of her playboy father as they suspect that her husband is having an affair where the two deal with this possibility. The film is a study of a father-daughter relationship where the latter lives a sophisticated life with two young children but ponders about her marriage with the former deciding to help out despite his impulsive lifestyle. Starring Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Jenny Slate, Jessica Henwick, Barbara Bain, and Marlon Wayans. On the Rocks is a riveting and heartfelt film from Sofia Coppola.
The film revolves around a novelist who turns to her playboy father after becoming suspicious about her husband whom she believes is having an affair. It is a film with a simple premise as it plays into a woman not just dealing with the possibility of her husband having an affair but also questioning about the behavior of men where she turns to the worst person to go to in her father. Sofia Coppola’s screenplay is largely straightforward in its narrative yet it really follows the journey that Laura Keane (Rashida Jones) is going through not just as a mother trying to work on another novel but also raising two kids in Maya (Liyanna Muscat) and the toddler Theo (Alexandra and Anna Reimer) while her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) is an entrepreneur trying to work on deals that would help their lives despite having to travel a lot.
Yet, when Dean returned home late one night and acting confused and Laura would later find a toiletry bag in Dean’s luggage that belonged to his one of his co-workers in Fiona (Jessica Henwick). Laura talks to her father Felix (Bill Murray) who arrives to New York City from Paris to visit as Laura tells him about Dean where Felix believes something is off. Felix has these theories while also has a lot of connections that makes him suspicious about Dean while he would take Laura out to posh places to eat as it also bring in some observations from Laura about why her father was always flirting and going after other women. Coppola’s script has a lot of witty dialogue but also a lot of dramatic suspense as it play into Laura’s own revelations about her marriage as the script also has Coppola maintain some element of repetition which add to the routine that Laura endures at home as she struggling to write and be a parent to two young kids.
Coppola’s direction does have some elements of style in the compositions that she creates that include some of her trademark shots that she is known for. Yet, much of it is straightforward in terms of its overall presentation as it is shot largely on location in New York City with one scene shot outside of the city and the film’s climax in Mexico. The film opens with a brief scene of Dean and Laura’s wedding and a moment where they go skinny-dipping at a pool as it play into a moment of happiness which then cuts to black and then back to Laura in bed sleeping when Dean arrives as he kisses Laura and has this confused look in his face that would also confuse Laura. Coppola’s approach to repetition in the way Laura spends much of her day in making breakfast for the kids, dropping her oldest to school, bringing the youngest home to nap, to try and work on her novel, and then pick up her oldest from school has a charm to the way every-day life is but it also play into Coppola’s recurring theme of disconnection where Laura feels like her marriage is in trouble. The usage of the wide and medium shots do play into that disconnect whether it’s in some of the exterior locations in New York City or in Mexico or at a certain place like a restaurant or a hotel bar.
Coppola also uses close-ups to play into not just this air of confusion and despair but also in moments that play into Laura’s relationship with her father such as a scene where they’re at the actual bar in the Continental hotel in New York City as it play into the way men are where Felix flirts with a women at the bar. The scene where Laura and Felix are trying to chase Dean shows that Felix is not just this ball of fun but also the fact that he really does care despite his offbeat behavior where he can be cynical at times. The third act as it relates to a business trip Dean went to that leads to this moment where Laura asks why Felix cheated on her mom as well as having affairs with other women. It is a scene where Felix does show he’s vulnerable but also about the fallacies of human nature as it is about control which is something Laura is trying to maintain. Overall, Coppola crafts a ravishing and somber film about a woman turning to her playboy father over concerns about the state of her marriage.
Cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key and vibrant lighting for many of the daytime exterior/interior scenes as well as some low-level lights for some of the interior scenes at night to help set a mood for some of the dramatic moments in the film. Editor Sarah Flack does amazing work with the editing as it does have some stylish usage of jump-cuts and such yet much of it is straightforward in terms of playing into the drama as well as some inventive montages to play into the routine of Laura’s life. Production designer Anne Ross, with set decorator Amy Beth Silver and art director Jennifer Dehghan, does excellent work with the look of the loft that Dean and Laura live in with their children as well as the office that Dean works at and the classroom where Laura is often in a conversation with another parent.
Costume designer Stacey Battat does fantastic work with the costumes from some of the casual clothes that Laura wears including a few stylish clothes she wears along with some of the suits that Felix wears to play into his posh lifestyle. Sound designer Richard Beggs and co-sound editor Roy Waldspurger do superb work with the sound as it adds to the atmosphere of the scenes such as how car horns and alarms sound outside of a building from the inside as well as the way an engine sounds on a vintage corvette as it is a highlight of the film. The film’s music by Phoenix is sublime in its mixture of ambient and indie to play into the sense of uncertainty that looms in Laura as they also supervise the soundtrack with Ian Broucek that doesn’t just feature a song by Phoenix but also an array of music ranging from jazz, classical, pop, and mariachi music with additional contributions from Paul Shaffer on producing songs that Felix sings as the soundtrack features bits from Chet Baker, Michael Nyman, Porches, Thelonious Monk with the Clark Terry Quartet, Franz Schubert, the Bill Evans Trio, and Mina.
The casting by Courtney Bright, Allison Hall, and Nicole Daniels is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Juliana Canfield as Laura’s sister Amanda, Musto Pelinkovicci as Felix’s driver, Kelly Lynch as a blonde woman Felix flirts with at the Continental, Evangeline Young as Maya’s ballet teacher, Barbara Bain as Laura’s grandmother, Mike Keller as a police officer who stops Felix over his driving, Alexandra and Anna Reimer as Laura and Dean’s toddler daughter Theo, Liyanna Muscat as Laura and Dean’s adolescent daughter Maya, Jenny Slate as a parent named Vanessa who often talks to Laura about her attempts in dating, and Jessica Henwick in a terrific performance as Dean’s co-worker Fiona whom Laura believes is Dean’s mistress. Marlon Wayans is brilliant as Dean as an entrepreneur who spends a lot of time traveling and working while also trying to make time for the kids and for Laura as it is a low-key and restrained performance from Wayans who is often known for comedy.
Finally, there’s the duo of Bill Murray and Rashida Jones in incredible performances in their respective roles as the father-daughter duo of Felix and Laura. Murray’s performance is one full of wit and charm as someone who is just trying to be a good father despite his playboy persona where he becomes suspicious of Dean where Murray also display a lot of restraint but also some vulnerability in some scenes. Jones’ performance as Laura is great in playing it straight but also someone who deals with the ideas that her marriage might end as it is a performance with some wit but also with energy into someone that is just trying to find answers. Murray and Jones together play off each other well as they also know how to interact and bounce off one another as they are the highlight of the film.
On the Rocks is a phenomenal film from Sofia Coppola that features great performances from Rashida Jones and Bill Murray. Along with its supporting cast, rapturous visuals, intoxicating music soundtrack, and themes of marriage and the faults of masculinity. The film is a compelling yet low-key film that has Coppola going for something simpler but also play into the idea of a woman trying to understand her father while dealing with the possibility about her husband. In the end, On the Rocks is a sensational film from Sofia Coppola.
Sofia Coppola Films: Lick the Star - The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation - Marie Antoinette - Somewhere - The Bling Ring - A Very Murray Christmas - The Beguiled (2017 film) - (The Custom of the Country)
Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides OST - The Virgin Suicides OST - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST)
Related: The Videos & Ads 1993-2008 - Favorite Films #1: Lost in Translation - The Auteurs #1: Sofia Coppola - Favorite Films #4: Somewhere - 10 Reasons Why Lost in Translation is the Best Film Ever...
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I'm glad this one worked for you more than it worked for me. I just didn't love it like I wanted to.
@Brittani-Yes, it's nowhere near her best films but that wasn't what I was expecting. Instead, it ended up being more low-key and simpler but also it did a lot to explore the male ideals of what they want in a woman and why they do those things. I liked it a lot as I hope to get the Blu-Ray for it to add to my collection. It was what I expected from Sofia but I'm also glad she found new things to do with the themes she's always exploring.
I love the pairing of Rashida Jones and Bill Murray, and it's a well-directed movie like all the points you mentioned. Despite that, somehow I didn't love it as much as I had hoped. Still glad I watched it though.
@Ruth-I think people had higher expectations for this film since it's Sofia but I wasn't expecting another masterpiece as I'm sure everyone has a different favorite film from a great filmmaker. Still, I enjoyed it.
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