On the Rocks

Bill Murray reunites with Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola as a roguishly charming father who teams up with his daughter (Rashida Jones) to roam New York on the heels of her possibly unfaithful husband.

Bill Murray does not disappoint as Felix, a legendary New York gallery owner, now retired but still living the good life as an old-school rogue.

His daughter Lauren, brilliantly played by Rashida Jones, is a successful author living what seems from the outside to be the perfect New York existence: a Manhattan apartment, two gorgeous daughters and a handsome husband whose new business is taking off. But when Dean (Marlon Wayans) comes home from the latest of his increasingly frequent business trips, Laura begins to suspect the perfection is a thin veneer. Her husband may be having an affair.

Fans of Sofia Coppola will appreciate her signature style, which is a lush blend of mood, location and ambiguity, all gorgeously lit and rich with details that quietly speak volumes.

This is Coppola’s seventh feature film but the first to reunite her with Murray since Lost in Translation (2003) and he delivers a powerhouse performance. Jones is more understated but equally brilliant, playing the foil to Murray’s sardonic mischief, but doing it with such candid yet subtle strength that not for a moment do we consider her a victim.

Armed only with a couple of pieces of circumstantial evidence and a gut feeling that Dean may be sleeping with his new assistant, Laura decides to ask an expert on womanising – her father. Felix hears her story and, based on his world-view as an ageing, chauvinistic playboy, he decides it is more than likely that Dean is being unfaithful. So he offers to help Laura play detective.

While this sounds like the premise for a crass father/daughter buddy movie, in Coppola’s hands, this film becomes an artful exploration of a complex father/daughter relationship.

Beautifully shot and following the characters through a range of celebrated but not hackneyed New York locations, On the Rocks looks at marriage and success with a clear gaze that recognises exactly how complicated both concepts can be. It is a finely tuned observation of the unspoken complexities that exist between spouses, as well as fathers and daughters, and all that these relationships can teach us about love and trust.

Personally, I thought the ending lacked a little of Coppola’s trademark flair for ambiguity, but without question, On the Rocks is a showcase of her prodigious talent. Her admirers, as well as fans of Murray and Jones, will be well rewarded for their time.

Originally published by InDaily on 1.10.2020

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