Sofia Coppola’s ‘On the Rocks’ delights with charming performances, dialogue

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Courtesy of A24 and Apple TV

‘On the Rocks’ originally premiered at New York Film Festival on Sept. 22. This is the first film produced under the partnership between A24 and Apple TV.

There’s nothing quite as contentious as the father-daughter relationship. Simultaneously impossible to perfect, yet rewarding in many ways, it’s a phenomenon that many find hard to plant their feet in. 

While many might strive for the ones in “Father of the Bride” or “Interstellar,” the majority of us will find comfort in the one depicted in Apple Original Films and A24’s latest release, “On the Rocks.”

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, we follow married New York City writer Laura (Rashida Jones), along with her two adorable daughters and distant husband Dean (Marlon Wayans).

With Dean constantly traveling for work and growing closer to his co-worker Fiona (Jessica Henwick), Laura lives her life in a monotonous routine of school drop offs and bath time routines.

Everything about her screams working mom: her harried expression, her chic yet comfortable wardrobe and her growing to-do list brought on by her writer’s block. To top it all off, Laura now has growing suspicions that her husband might be cheating on her.

Enter her playboy father Felix (Bill Murray) who somehow seems to know everybody and everything in New York City, constantly trying to charm every woman he meets when he’s not busy jetting off to Paris. Thinking he might have insight considering his own infidelity with her mother, Laura enlists him to get to the bottom of it.

What ensues is a charming cat and mouse game as they try to find substantial evidence that Dean is cheating on Laura, finding nothing obvious enough to confirm her suspicions.

While Coppola’s vision of the genre is nothing new, the film still goes on an adventure fun enough to captivate the audience. What could be just another throwaway father-daughter film instead comes alive under Coppola’s craftful writing and direction. With her stunning shots of the city and fun dialogue, featuring a hilarious cameo from Jenny Slate as another mother, “On the Rocks” is truly heartwarming.

Jones and Murray shine together as the father-daughter duo, convincingly pulling off the awkwardness and even the resentment that comes from absentee parents. With performances so strong from these two, some of the other actors pale in comparison. 

Take Wayans’ character for example. While there’s nothing awful about his performance, there just wasn’t enough character development for him to fully flesh out the character, leaving instead just a flimsy silhouette of one. 

At the heart of the film is a story that confronts the hard questions of love and marriage, while exploring how one crumbling relationship might be able to fix an old one.

You can catch “On the Rocks” in select theatres. It will be available for streaming on Apple TV+ starting Oct. 23.