#REVIEW: “ON THE ROCKS”
By Mr. Will Wong
Sofia Coppola undoubtedly is one of our favourite Filmmakers. In her latest effort ON THE ROCKS, she finds her way back on very solid footing after a three-year absence and what a relief that while simplistic, it is a wonderful watch!
The Dramedy written and directed by Coppola on the surface is an exploration of domestic struggle set against a backdrop of privilege – something Coppola knows and does well. We meet successful Writer Laura (Rashida Jones), who has a wonderful life with two kids and a loving husband in Dean (Marlon Wayans). As Dean begins to spend more and more time at work and work-related events, Laura begins to suspect the worst – that he’s having an affair with his beautiful, young colleague Fiona (Jessica Henwick). All the signs are there, she finds some of Fiona’s toiletries in Dean’s luggage and they seem to be getting awful close. He’s shopping for gifts, but she isn’t receiving them. We meet Felix (Bill Murray), Laura‘s free-spirited father, who seems to win everyone over with his charm. Felix is convinced Dean is cheating on his daughter and convinces Laura to follow him.
ON THE ROCKS might appear to be about a woman in search of the truth about her husband’s infidelity, but it actually is a story about our central father and daughter. It is carried by their often comical bond and them confronting issues that have haunted them for many years, including Felix‘s own infidelity. Like Lost in Translation, Coppola explores the blurred lines of what it looks like for a father figure to be emotionally invested in a younger woman and vice-versa, without the romantic component. While Coppola has many opportunities to veer into melodrama and make her lead the victim, she always manages to avoid that. Every time we get close to catching Dean in the act, there’s just enough crafty diversion to keep us guessing, though our attentions ultimately are directed back to father and daughter.
ON THE ROCKS is light-hearted, affecting and we genuinely get to know these interesting characters at their deepest core, understanding what it is that makes them tick and also what has crippled them in their own lives. There aren’t earth-shattering leaps and bounds in growth, but Coppola captures that bit of life-changing enlightenment her characters gain that enable them to move forward in their lives.
Murray as always is wonderful, bringing Dean to life in ways where though his thinking is flawed and old school, he is irresistible. It always is clear his eccentricities come from a place of love and wanting to protect Laura. Jones is a joy to watch. She approaches her role with a grounded coolness that always has us in her favour, even when she finally confronts both Dean and Felix about the issues affecting her relationships with them.
ON THE ROCKS is an absolute pleasure and will likely warrant a re-visit soon as we find ourselves thinking about it still. It is playing at select Cineplex Theatres now and arrives on Apple TV+ on Friday, October 23, 2020.