On The Rocks

A new film from Sofia Coppola is always worth a look. I say new, but she has rather been in this “daddy issues” area before, even if her lightness of touch and elegant ease with the camera can still conjure up charm, acerbic laughter and, ultimately, momentum of emotion.

Bill Murray plays the cool, rich, art-dealing father to Rashida Jones’ struggling author Mum, married to Marlon Wayans’ start-up boss. They’re actually a pretty wealthy, Soho-living family, so your heart heardly bleeds, but Jones is hugely sympathetic here and when she suspects Wayans is cheating on her with a new work colleague, you feel her confusion and disappointment.

It’s a very watchable comedy, with good gags about school mums and New Yorkers and Bill Murray is very Murray – although I’m personally a bit past fawning over Bill Murray like he’s a comic messiah – he’s not, he’s a very lazy actor. But yes, the deadpan affability is there and he works it to the max, pairing neatly with Rashida Jones as they both embark on a bout of amateur sleuthing (I’m thinking Manhattan Murder Mystery) to find out if Wayans is putting their marriage ‘on the rocks’. 

Along the way, there’s lots of father/daughter drinking (more ‘on the rocks’), emoting and generational clash of attitude towards sex and the sexes, and suddenly, a character will say something poignant and insightful and true and the film sparkles and twinkles like the Chet Baker tunes on the soundtrack, which contrast with the more modern use of Phoenix, too – the band containing Sofia’s husband, because, you know, the Coppolas do like to keep it in the family.

It’s in some cinemas, and kind of worth the trip, but then it is on Apple TV soon, too. Obviously, a New York-set gentle comedy, I think of Woody Allen and of course Coppola pere did one of the New York Stories trilogy with Woody and Scorsese and I think Sofia actually featured in that one as a toddler.

But the Woody connection continues as On The Rocks has a scene in the Carlyle hotel’s Bemelman’s Bar, the one with the famous murals, which I’d never seen on screen previously until it featured heavily in Woody Allen’s recent A Rainy Day in New York, so, you know, I don’t know what that means, but, hello Bemelmans, and well done to your PR rep or agent or whatever locations have to get them gigs these days… the walls look great and the cocktails even better…