Sofia Coppola paints a broad brush stroke love letter to New York in her latest film On the Rocks. The production reunites the writer / director with Bill Murray, Coppola’s leading man in the Academy Award-winning Lost in Translation. Coppola is adept at evoking atmosphere on screen, and in On the Rocks, the director depicts both the city’s community feel as well as its loneliness.
Laura (Rashida Jones) thinks she’s happily hitched, but when her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) starts logging late hours at the office and exhibiting a waning interest in her, she begins to fear the worst. Her doubts are seemingly confirmed, when Laura accompanies Dean to a celebratory party for his hot new startup company, she is left to her own devices while Dean cosies up to his new assistant, and later, when he gives her a questionable birthday present.
Laura turns to the one man she suspects may have insight: her impulsive and wealthy father Felix (Bill Murray), who insists they investigate the situation. Laura is definitely not on board with the idea however she lets Felix coerce her into a series of stakeouts in the hopes to find the truth. Perhaps she jumps at the opportunity as a further distraction from writing her book. Or maybe, given the countless lonely nights she spends at home while Dean is wining and dining, stalking him at least connects her to him on some level.
Whatever the reason, father and daughter set out to prowl New York at night searching Manhattan for clues to Dean’s behavior. What they actually find is, a reason to inspect their own relationship with one another. The more time they spend dodging mishaps and misadventure while tracking Dean, the more they keep bumping into the very different ways they see the world, all while trying to hang onto each other.
For the first half, Jones and Murray’s performances are understated. Felix rarely rises above his women-as-objects perspective, and at times it feels like a film from an age ago. However, the pace gets a kick start some 45 minutes in when the antics begin, starting with Felix’s choice of surveillance vehicle – a back-firing classic convertible.
On the Rocks is screening in select cinemas from Friday 2 October. Check your local guides for screening times. It will then be released globally on Apple TV+ from 23 October.
About On the Rocks
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola
Stars Bill Murray, Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans