A new Sofia Coppola always causes a ripple through the film-lovers’ world.
On the Rocks, written and directed by Coppola, tells the story of Laura. Happily married to successful businessman Dean, mother of two gorgeous girls, she is a writer with a new book deal. Life is seemingly great. When she starts to suspect Dean of an affair, her ageing playboy father Felix encourages and helps her, to spy on her husband.
Once again Coppola teams with Bill Murray, who puts in yet another powerhouse performance as Felix. Murray is an actor of infinite subtlety, depth and humanity. He is surely an Oscar contender for this role.
Playing opposite him as Laura is Rashida Jones, perhaps best known in Australia for her role as Ann Perkins in Parks and Recreation. Jones more than matches Murray, giving us a Laura who is authentic and vulnerable, yet with enough agency to prevent her being the eternal victim.
Smaller roles are cast with Coppola’s trademark care. In particular, Marlon Wayans is delightful as Dean and Jenny Slate is hilarious as the self-absorbed friend Vanessa.
This is a film that moves at the perfect pace. Large narrative shifts are balanced with finely layered details: Laura’s The Paris Review t-shirt; Felix’s ability to spot a ballet dancer from the way they stand; the desk-tidying, label-making procrastination of the stuck writer. It is also a love poem to the city of New York. In pace, subject and composition it is redolent of mid-career Woody Allen, and Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan.
At its heart, this is the story of a father and daughter. Of a relationship that defies definition or even full understanding.
It is a rare piece of cinematic perfection.
On the Rocks opens this Friday October 2nd at Palace Nova Cinema, and will be available on Apple TV+ from October 23rd.