On the Rocks – Film Review

Palace Electric Canberra
From 2 October 2020
Comedy/drama (dramedy)
97 minutes, rated G
Directed by Sofia Coppola

A young New York mother (Rashida Jones) faced with sudden doubts about her marriage teams up with her playboy father (Bill Murray) to tail her husband (Marlon Wayans). The ensuing comic adventure draws father and daughter closer.

The most interesting thing about this film was, I thought, the relationship between Laura and her father Felix. To some extent, Bill Murray always seems to play Bill Murray in what one US reviewer has described as deadpan shtick, but perhaps this is his skill as an actor that we always believe he is simply being himself.

His Felix is very like his Ghostbusters character, Peter Venkman – wise cracking, womanising, funny, nevertheless warm and likeable. Coppola speaks of him as the ‘martini generation’, who whilst doting on their daughters were also part of an ‘objectifying culture’.

In this film, we see that protective relationship of the father for a daughter he feels is not being treated sufficiently like a goddess.

Laura’s background as the child of a wealthy and well-connected art dealer explains very well the need of her husband to work himself into the ground (and with this, his marriage) in the quest to impress her. Felix’s return into Laura’s life at a time of neediness allows the development of a closeness despite Laura’s often sardonic and resistant reaction to her dad’s ideas, actions and surveillance strategy,

The city and district of New York and its society get a good airing in the film. The director says she is writing her own kind of love letter to the city – its venues, streets, history and famous personalities.

Stylistically the film dodges between a romcom, a classic NY story and slapstick with moments of introspection and banal domesticity. It’s an enjoyable if not a scintillating film, timely entertainment in a Covid-jaded world.

Whether it has mush lasting to say remains to be seen, but for me, any film doted with Chet Baker tracks has got to have something going for it.

Bookings and information: https://www.palacecinemas.com.au/movies/on-the-rocks