On the Rocks

 

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An unlikely father-daughter pairing takes on a new dimension.

 

On the Rocks

A happy tune: Rashida Jones and Bill Murray

 

On the surface, writer Laura (Rashida Jones) and businessman Dean (Marlon Wayans) would seem to be a happy family with two children and some good friends. However, while Dean is hardly ever at home with Laura and the kids, but instead at the office till all hours, and then socialising with his fellow workers and going on conference trips with new colleague Fiona (Jessica Henwick), Laura is the stay-at-home wife doing the housework, going on the school-run and having suspicions that her husband is playing away. 

 

Laura’s eccentric father Felix (Bill Murray) obviously doesn’t approve of his daughter’s partner because on her birthday Dean buys Laura a kitchen appliance instead of something personal such as jewellery, and so agrees with Laura that something must be amiss. Wise old dad then suggests they follow Dean in Felix’s beat-up, bright-red, sports car and try to discover exactly what is going on.

 

Writer-director Sofia Coppola offers a refreshing tale of a relationship that, despite the odds and the surface appearances, seems to be going nowhere. Or is it that Laura, as a writer, has a vivid imagination and is just taking her observations at face value because of the lack of attention she’s getting from the father of her children? Setting the film in New York, Coppola is obviously paying tribute to the city itself and, like Woody Allen’s Manhattan, is offering a paean of praise to the Big Apple, with the aid of Philippe Le Sourd’s brilliantly muted cinematography.
 
The film successfully combines marital drama and knockabout fun but keeps a firm hand on the plot, lacing it with appealing good humour but without trivialising it. Bill Murray is on top comic form, playful and engaging as Felix – watch him bluff his way out of getting a speeding fine – while Rashida Jones makes Laura credible as she is gradually being worn down by her suspicions and the strain of a situation that gives her writer’s block. Is it her fault and has she become just a boring housewife? The title On the Rocks sums up Laura’s predicament as she pictures her marriage being grounded possibly through no fault of her own. It may come across as being a slight piece but in its serio-comic way it is one that is charming, endearing and eminently enjoyable.

 

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Cast: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jenny Slate, Jessica Henwick, Barbara Bain, Nadia Dalani, Musto Pelinkovicci, Kelly Lynch.

 

Dir Sofia Coppola, Pro Sofia Coppola and Youree Henley, Screenplay Sofia Coppola, Ph Philippe Le Sourd, Pro Des Anne Ross, Ed Sarah Flack, Music Phoenix, Costumes Stacey Battat.

 
A24/American Zoetrope-Trafalgar Releasing.
96 mins. USA. 2020. Rel: 2 October 2020. Cert. 15.