The ’80s has been called the decade when “predictability lost its cache.” Kids wanted to be the freewheeling Ferris Bueller, Madonna proved that shock sells, and enfant terribles like Jean Paul Gaultier ruled the runways. At first sight, those bold and brash years seem at odds with Sofia Coppola’s charmed, ethereal worlds.
Yet ’80s throwbacks are rife in her work – albeit infused with Coppola’s beguiling subtlety, dark humour and on point fashion sensibility. Who else would have put Scarlett Johansson in a glam rock pink wig while belting out karaoke hits in Lost in Translation? Or juxtaposed Versailles chic with post-punk beats in Marie Antoinette? “The ’80s was when I was a teenager, so it made a big impression on shaping me into who I am,” says the director.
Coppola belongs to Hollywood’s Generation X, alongside other auteurs, such as Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson, who came of age during Tinseltown’s era of excess. Once written off as the dazed and confused, the whimsy and wanderings of their early adulthood have blossomed into idiosyncratic cult hits. Coppola’s own lost years, including a brutally panned stab at acting and flirtation with fashion design, have been well documented. It was only when Coppola got behind the camera – showing us the world through her eyes –that the multiple perspectives that compose her rich point of view came together.