On the Rocks review: Sofia Coppola reunites with ‘top-form Bill Murray’

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Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola is back on fine form with this breezy new comedy-drama.

On the Rocks follows Laura (Rashida Jones), a successful writer living with her busy working husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) and raising their beautiful children.

However, Laura is starting to feel stuck with her book, questioning her desirability, and a has a niggling feeling that something isn't right in her relationship with Dean.

Enter Laura’s playboy father Felix (Bill Murray), who is convinced that Dean is having an affair. The two soon set out to uncover the truth but along the way have to grapple with their own father and daughter relationship and what it means for Laura’s future.

Rashida Jones and Bill Murray are a father and daughter on a mission in Apple TV's On the Rocks
(Image: Apple TV)

It’s not the first time that Coppola has tackled fathers and daughters, as evidenced by her film Somewhere, but this is a much more accessible portrayal that thrives off of the easy chemistry of its leads.

Rashida Jones puts in a naturalistic and warm performance as a maternal and loving family woman who is suspicious and crippled by self-doubt. What could easily have become a melodramatic or over-the-top turn is instead kept delicate and graceful, making us all the more infested in the journey of Laura.

Rashida Jones stars a writer named Laura who is questioning her career, desirability and marriage
(Image: Apple TV)

She is well-coupled with a top-form Bill Murray who is charming and cheeky as the likeable Felix, whose footloose and fancy-free lifestyle covers his more melancholic shortcomings as a father. Murray gets the best lines and biggest laughs as the larger-than-life ageing bachelor.

The rest of the supporting players put in fine turns, but there is an especially memorable recurring part from Jenny Slate as a mother at Laura’s school that continues to ramble about her increasingly eventful personal life while Jones’ Laura doesn't even bother to fain interest.

Jenny Slate (left) plays Vanessa, a mother to a classmate of Laura's younger daughter, who is always offloading her dramas whether Laura wants to hear them or not
(Image: Apple TV)

There is a welcome use of ethnic diversity to its New York setting here too, even if does not venture outside of a world of privilege with tje gorgeous apartments, hotels, and restaurants that have come to litter the director's other films. Yet, this outing does feel a lot more down-to-earth despite these trappings.

Coppola doesn't rely too heavily on plot, with the investigations into Dean’s true intentions forming what of the plot there is, as we spend most of the time exploring Laura’s hopes and fears for the future.

Marlon Wayans' Dean heads off on a business trip – but can Laura trust him?
(Image: Apple TV)

Building to some more emotional scenes and some bitter honesty, Coppola uses a measured pace that doesn't feel drawn out and soaked in ennui – as with Somewhere – but neither is it rolling along at break-neck pace.

Perhaps it is not as instantly quotable as her satirical teen outing The Bling Ring nor as moving as Lost in Translation, but this comedy-caper is light on its feet and speaks from a comforting place of honesty.

On the Rocks brings Laura closer to her dad Felix but what will they discover about Dean and themselves along the way?
(Image: Apple TV)

Ultimately, On the Rocks is a charming rumination on parenthood and the fears and worries of that come with long-term monogamy, proving that Sofia Coppola is always a director to rely on.

Verdict

On the Rocks is a breezy comedy-drama that utilises charming chemistry between Bill Murray and Rashida Jones as a father and daughter on a mission. Director Sofia Coppola is at her most instantly accessible.

On the Rocks is available in select cinemas and is released on Apple TV on October 23, 2020.

What is your favourite Sofia Coppola film? Let us know in the comments below.

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