There is one reason to see ON THE ROCKS, and that’s Bill Murray’s
flamboyant, slyly funny, and altogether charming performance.
Writer/director Sofia Coppola has once again teamed Murray with a young
actress to chart an adventurous emotional course. In 2003’s
“Lost In Translation”
Murray played a lonely movie star adrift in Tokyo who meets Scarlett
Johansson as a newlywed equally adrift in a troubled marriage. The
atmosphere around them felt hermetically sealed, dreamlike, and it clung
to them as they wandered from the timeless environs of a towering
luxury hotel, out into the night in an unexpected, mysteriously lovely
trance. This time Murray’s role conjures up nostalgia for an era and its
mores about to be on the rocks.
Murray plays a wealthy art dealer and bon vivant named Felix who
cocktails his way through upper crust Manhattan with his adult daughter
Laura, a writer and mother of two, played by Rashida Jones. She suspects
her husband (Marlon Wayans) of cheating. Wayans’s character is a mere
prop in the Oedipal drama between father and daughter, the daughter
observing her playboy dad in action wafting through old New York as we
get a whiff of the romance and vintage air he breathes. Coppola once
again aims to cast a sweet, funny spell, but is missing that magical
chemistry between her two leads. Jones’s character is too resolutely
hangdog and lacks some of the lightness her eventual wisdom would have
allowed for. Jenny Slate is an hilarious side note as a self-absorbed
yacker whom Laura is always trying to dodge at school drop off.
Trudging through her day in striped shirt, baggy pants, and soft
shoes, Laura reminded me of the sad-eyed, bedraggled Giulietta Masina in
“La Strada” tagging along in the circus that is her old man’s life.
Here, the old man knows all the doormen and cops in Manhattan, sips
martinis in the hallowed denizens of The Carlyle and mingles amongst the
overstuffed parlors and inhabitants of high society art collectors.
When Felix puts his lips together and blows, it’s the haunting strains
1944 film noir he’s whistling. He tools around the avenues in his
vintage red convertible playing detective while eating caviar. Felix is
determined to catch his daughter’s cheating husband in the act and
assert his primacy in her life– until he’s stopped short by his.... .
ON THE ROCKS, an Apple Original Films and A24 Release, is now playing at
Landmark’s Kendall Square Cinema and will be available on Apple TV+
Friday, October 23.