Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks tells the story of a young mother named Laura Keene (Rashida Jones) who reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father Felix (Bill Murray) on an adventure through New York. In this comedy about aging, marriage, and the tenuous bond between parents and grown children, New York author and married mother-of-two Laura has become suspicious that her career-driven husband may be having an affair with a coworker, a speculation encouraged by her caddish, bon vivant father.
I am well aware that Sofia Coppola is a highly acclaimed director behind some of the best films in the past few decades such as The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, but even still, I find her to be severely underrated. Her films are widely regarded to be great, but really think about it – the last time somebody asked you to tell them some of your favorite directors, has Sofia Coppola ever been on your list? Probably not. But I think that with On the Rocks, Coppola proves herself to be one of my favorite directors.
All of her films feel so relaxing and oozing with a sense of calm and collectedness. Lost in Translation for example is an extremely simple film, but in its simplicity, it manages to tell a compelling and thoughtful story and one that is still being talked about all these years later. On the Rocks is similarly a calm and collected story but one that reels you in right from the opening.
It’s kind of like a Noah Baumbach movie too. To be honest, if I didn’t look up who directed this film before I watched it, I may have thought that Baumbach directed it. We follow everyday people who get caught up in life struggles such as marriage and parental issues, and on paper, that doesn’t sound like it would be all that interesting. But it is made interesting thanks to Coppola’s intimate script as well as its characters who feel realistic and are easy to get attached to.
Sure, there are some moments here and there where it feels like there really isn’t a story and some scenes definitely do drag, but ultimately, I found myself getting genuinely invested in Laura’s life and I wanted to see how things were going to work out between her and Dean, and her father Felix.
Speaking of Laura, I have to talk about how amazing Rashida Jones is in this role. Having been a fan of hers ever since the Parks and Recreation and The Office days, I was excited to see Jones get a front-and-center role in a new movie. She has proven time and time again that she is a supremely-talented actress, yet she doesn’t get a ton of starring roles. That should definitely change.
In the role of Laura, Jones feels so simplistic yet so emotionally powerful when the script asks her to be. It’s a perfectly balanced and mesmerizing performance and one of the strongest of the year so far. But not to be overlooked either is Bill Murray as Laura’s father Felix. Similar to Jones’ character, Felix is also a relaxed, ordinary individual but is made interesting thanks to the writing and Murray’s charming performance.
All of the actors in the film come together and form excellent chemistry that feels so grounded and so real. At its core, On the Rocks is a poetic and meditative movie that is incredibly enjoyable, even if it may be far too simplistic for some viewers to get truly invested in.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: R for some language/sexual references
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Distributed by: A24, Apple TV+
Release Date: October 2, 2020
Running Time: 96 minutes