October 12, 2020

SCREEN | Sofia Coppola Wanders – A Marriage 'On the Rocks'

"Hey kiddo! Feel like hoppin' in?"
Rashida Jones Marlon Wayans Sofia Coppola | On the Rocks | Apple TV+
A24 / American Zoetrope
Minimalist filmmaker Sofia Coppola offers another mostly expected but still appealing romp starring a wandering female protagonist, a sparkling Rashida Jones as Laura, who spends time with an older gentleman portrayed by Bill Murray as her playboy father, Felix. On the Rocks is by far Coppola's lightest and breeziest film as she settles nicely into its minor mid-life crisis material.

Aside from Marlon Wayans weaving in an out of the film as Laura's travelling businessman husband, it's almost entirely a two-hander where Jones and Murray basically just hangout with the barest of sitcom-y premises where she suspects infidelity on the part of Wayan's Dean. Whether he's actually cheating on Laura really is immaterial. Her vague suspicions are ultimately a metaphor for her own malaise or dissatisfaction in life as a stay-at-home mother, long-distance wife, and struggling author.

Jones (who, like Coppola, also grew up with an iconic father of her own) and Murray have a natural father/daughter chemistry with an underlying history of both fun and frustration layering their complex relationship dynamic. The loose film and love letter to New York City living is a breezy rumination on marital commitment, insecurities, and domesticity only ever really lightly touching on the actual problems of the marriage portrayed.

Coppola's further exploration of well-worn subject matter around the loneliness and transition of ennui amongst the upper-class never feels disingenuous or even that particularly privileged (it definitely is though). Her honest writing and generosity to her actors make the film a charming and amusing departure despite its sometimes ineffectual plot. On the Rocks feels like an inbetweener in her filmography working out familiar concepts while expressing city life in Manhattan.

On the Rocks is available to stream on Apple TV+ starting October 23rd.

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