Reel Spotlight: Sofia Coppola


Written by Matilda Mornane.

Sofia Coppola is the offspring of one of the most well-known writer-directors of the 20th century, Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, The Great Gatsby, Apocalypse Now).

Born into filmmaking royalty, Coppola has made her mark predominantly as a director. While she started off acting in a few of her father’s films (she appeared in both The Godfather and The Godfather Part III), it wasn’t until her late twenties that Coppola began to make the films she is now famous for.

Cult classics have become a trademark of her work. Having boasted some of the most recognizable celebrities in the world, such as Bill Murray, Kirsten Dunst, Emma Watson and Stephen Dorff, Coppola frequently places her actors into unusual and quirky roles. From The Virgin Suicides, perfectly capturing the fascination and lust felt by a group of teenage boys for the five sisters they call neighbours, to her dramatized and very slightly historical musings on the short life of France’s controversial queen, Marie Antoinette. Coppola has consistently put her own name on whimsical, sometimes strange, and always beautifully shot films that observe the lives of the young. While she doesn’t hold the monopoly for films about kids, Coppola, more often than not, portrays the awkward and cute moments along with the ugliness that so often graces our early years.


Her films are always on the slower side, like 2010 film Somewhere, in which the first two and a half minutes are the same stationary shot of an expensive car driving in circles. They are abstract at times, but Coppola’s films still portray basic story lines that commonly follow lost souls trying to figure out their place in the world.

Of her latest film about a string of burglaries in Hollywood committed by teenagers in 2009, The Bling Ring, Coppola recently said that she wanted “the audience to experience it for themselves, and by the end of the movie to think about what’s important to them and how they feel about it”. She was careful to note that she didn’t want “to tell them what to think”; rather she uses her films to explore and observe the innocence, the immorality and confusion of life. This commitment to showing the world a story and leaving it open to interpretation, rather than forcing her opinion of the story on the viewer, is what makes Coppola’s filmmaking so alluring.

Coppola’s films may not be for everyone, but the stories she chooses to tell are always interesting. For fans of interesting cinematography and unique storylines, Coppola is definitely one to check out, and one to keep watching.

– M.M.