The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
On The Rocks is one of those films that had it been spearheaded by a more mainstream filmmaker we would’ve been treated to a far more comedic, almost episodic product, as opposed to the smooth, moody mentality adopted by Sofia Coppola. It’s a lively, outlandish story told in a particularly somber manner, elevated solely by the work of Bill Murray and Rashida Jones as an at-odds father-daughter combo who take off on should-be quirky adventures to prove whether or not her husband is having an affair.
Coppola is a fine director, and much of the audience’s enjoyment from On The Rocks will come from if you gel with her atmospheric, restrained temperament in regards to her storytelling. Whilst this film would arguably be her most mainstream effort, anyone expecting the Marie Antoinette filmmaker to break tradition will be sorely disappointed as it’s just as dialogue-heavy and middle-paced as the remainder of her filmography. New York City looks as appropriately lush as we’d expect, and Coppola garners fine work from both Murray and Jones, but it’s a meandering story and the only way Coppola makes it her own is by going against the grain of the story’s broad, comedic potential.
There’s nothing particularly fresh about Coppola’s narrative, whether that be the film’s focus on the father-daughter relationship or the infidelity storyline that births a spouse-spying situation, but, at the same time, it’s a perfectly serviceable plot that allows for telling insights on the mind-frames of men and women. Jones’ Laura really does appear to have it all - the NY loft, two darling children, a successful husband (Marlon Wayans’ Dean) - which is why she’s driven to such madness when she can’t help but shake the feeling that hubby dearest could be indulging in extra-marital activities; of course this is only spurred on by her father (Murray) whose own life of unfaithfulness makes her suspicions only grow. Stakeouts in red convertibles and secret squirrel stop offs in Mexico follow as dad and daughter tail Dean to uncover what has been bringing on his seeming distance at home.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Like a fine wine that ages with sophistication, Bill Murray really does possess a certain je ne sais quoi. Whether he’s breaking into spontaneous song, presenting extravagant caviar from his front seat, or waxing lyrical on the notion of monogamy, his Felix could easily be an insufferable old coot if it wasn't for the actor’s inherent ability to disarm and charm us at every given moment. The organic chemistry between himself and Rashida Jones is what keeps the film constantly afloat, she too managing to make us care for her character in spite of the damn-near perfect-ness of Laura’s life. Marlon Wayans once again proves his abilities as a more serious performer with a lovely supporting turn that trades off his good looks and natural appeal, and bringing to mind the chaotic comedic energy that Anna Faris delivered in small but memorable doses in Lost In Translation, Jenny Slate makes the most of her limited screen-time as a fellow mother at the school Laura’s kids attend, constantly invading space with her haywire love life woes; if there was any secondary character that deserved their own filmic spotlight, it would be hers.
'On The Rocks' won’t exactly spike AppleTV+ subscribers
ON THE ROCKS (2020)
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Everything about the film is very natural in terms of the looks of each character. New York City is given its usual desirable filter - though not that hard to do given the magic of the city - and the brief stop off in Mexico affords further luxe location design for us regular folks to ponder “if only”.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
A breezy location-specific score and predominantly natural background noise serve as the predominant accompaniment for each scene.
On The Rocks won’t exactly spike AppleTV+ subscribers, nor be a necessary enticement for customers already, but if you find yourself with a free 95 minutes on a Sunday afternoon then this could do the trick. It’s an easy watch, surprisingly uneventful and never laugh-out-loud funny, but it has its share of witty observations and the duo of Bill Murray and Rashida Jones really makes it more worthwhile than what the story allows.