Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, and Jessica Henwick star in writer-director Sofia Coppola’s intergenerational dramedy. A young mother turns to her charismatic and philandering father when she begins to suspect that her husband is cheating on her. Tragicomedy ensues as the dysfunctional father-daughter duo play detective throughout the streets of New York City and the exclusive interiors of Manhattan.~Augustine Chay
Another delightful comedy from Sofia Coppola’s sensitive mind.
Sofia Coppola’s writing and directing for her latest indie comedy-drama On the Rocks (2020) is so pleasant in tone and wonderfully thoughtful. Sofia Coppola is my favorite director of all time and it feels like she’s effortlessly delivering these captivating and adorable pictures. On the Rocks feels like a spiritual sequel and thematic trilogy end point after Lost in Translation and Somewhere ruminate about marriage, fidelity, and fatherhood. I found it enchanting.
Coppola’s direction proves she’s really an American auteur in complete charge of her own ability to feel for her character as she empathizes with Rashida Jones’ charming heroine Laura, while pitying the miserable old womanizer Bill Murray plays named Felix. I appreciate Sofia Coppola for casting Rashida Jones as the lead actress as she gives a nuanced, funny, affectionate, worried, and endearing performance. I just loved her in On the Rocks.
Marlon Wayans is quite natural in his return to serious dramatic acting for the first time since Requiem for a Dream. He’s got this uncanny ability to be funny and charismatic enough to come across as ambiguous in his intentions, leading to the comedy of errors with his infidelity storyline. Likewise, it was a euphoric pleasure every time Coppola cuts to Jenny Slate’s rambling Vanessa as she pours her heart out to Rashida Jones’ Laura. We get to follow around these funny and silly characters around New York with Coppola’s stellar whimsy in a more light-hearted feature for her, yet it reaches earnest and moving moments. On the Rocks is one of my favorite films from 2020 with its simple pleasures and sweet atmosphere.
Sofia Coppola’s writing is touching as she contemplates how infidelity affects families, the close and peculiar relationships between fathers and daughters, and how we love with confidence in our partner. On the Rocks takes the funny premise of a husband who may be cheating on his wife, so she decides to follow him alongside her estranged father, who is encouraging her every step of the way. Bill Murray plays Felix as a sincerely concerned and doting father, yet hopelessly sexist as he hits on every woman he encounters with a nonchalance only Murray could pull off as charming. He’s almost a gentleman here and it’s a blast to watch Bill Murray act so cavalier with his distinctly deadpan delivery. You hear his disdain and disbelief in every choice word and eccentric monologue he performs.
I love how Sofia blends the father supporting his daughter’s belief that her husband is committing an affair, while giving her compliments and trying to get her just to have fun with life. Sofia’s Coppola’s writing is so tender and empathetic towards this mother and wife who is struggling in her marriage and enjoyment of life. Sofia deftly dismantles all of the father’s sexist generalizations and assertions about women in Rashida Jones’ final frustrated speech to her father. On the Rocks is alive with passion, care, and understanding. I found Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks absolutely wondrous.
Editor Sarah Flack cuts sharply throughout On the Rocks, giving the film a fiercely confident and fast pacing for a blissful 96 minutes. Philippe Le Sourd’s cinematography is gorgeous with these playfully centered framing like a Wes Anderson film, yet with all the warmth and deeper character understanding of any classic Sofia Coppola picture. From the quaint restaurant evenings to the quirky art dealer meetings and a frantic car chase, Le Sourd’s visual prowess is untouchable.
I loved Sofia Coppola’s sweet solutions to any plot issues like of course Murray could charm and talk his way out of being arrested by the police after speeding, also his character is rich. Coppola really challenges the usual criticism of her work that she only empathizes with the rich as Murray’s character definitely is making fun of the frivolous elites from his caviar snacks to his endless affairs that ruined his family’s lives.
Anne Ross’ realistic production design creates normal looking family apartments and ritzy restaurants with ease. I love Jennifer Dehghan’s cute art direction with pairs of characters always being the focus as On the Rocks really is all about our interactions with others. Set decorators Amy Beth Silver, Benjamin Bridges, and Guy Kozak craft cozy furnishings for a slick contemporary New Yorker family aesthetic. Phoenix’ score is wonderful synth pop for a bright and cheerful, yet reflective haze for On the Rocks’ overall mood.
Costume designers Stacey Battat, Erica Suzanne Scott, Marie Seifts, and Mary Caprari bring a warm and soft appearance for every character dressed in cozy sweaters and stylish suits. Lastly, make-up artists Evelyne Noraz, Frances Hannon, Christine Hooghuis, and Kristen Kiyan create a natural look for everyone without any Hollywood pretenses.
In all, I adored Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks. It’s charming, well crafted, funny, and poignant. I appreciate Sofia writing a real substantive role for Rashida Jones, who I’ve always thought deserved better parts. I am still entertained by Bill Murray when written and directed by the peerless Sofia Coppola.