Editor Sarah Flack and costume designer Stacey Battat helped director Sofia Coppola give Bill Murray the entrance he deserves in “On the Rocks,” his first film with Coppola since 2003’s “Lost in Translation.”
This time Murray is Felix, father of New York mom Laura, played by Rashida Jones. Laura is married to Dean, a successful businessman who travels a lot and spends a great deal of time with his beautiful assistant Fiona (Jessica Henwick). Laura is suspicious and enlists her father, an art dealer
and renowned ladies’ man, to use his male intuition to get to the bottom of what might be going on. The movie, now showing in select theaters, comes to Apple TV Plus on Oct. 23.
When we’re about to first encounter Felix, Laura is standing on a fairly empty Wooster Street in Manhattan as Michael Nyman’s “In Re Don Giovanni” plays. A black Mercedes with tinted glass pulls up, and the window slowly rolls down. “That music cue was [precisely] timed so that when the music ends, he’s revealed,” Flack says.
A frequent collaborator of Coppola’s since “Lost,” Flack found the sequence easy to cut because she had been brought in from day one. Coppola had also scripted the music cue. “Sofia had always planned for this music to be part of the section early in the movie, which illustrates Laura’s daily routine as she goes to meet her dad for lunch,” the editor says.
The initial cut took Flack a few hours, including the music edits, with the sustained final chord of Nyman’s song to coincide with the window coming down to reveal Felix. But she and Coppola continued to work on the scene, making slight adjustments. “I can’t tell you how long it took me to edit in the end because it was always evolving, and the music edits changed along the way whenever we adjusted that montage.”
In the back of her mind, Flack was thinking about Rita Hayworth’s entrance in the 1946 film “Gilda.” “I was always joking with Sofia about that moment where [Gilda] flips her hair back and you see her face for the first time,” she recalls.
Costume designer Stacey Battat wanted Felix to exude a worldly and sophisticated charm in his initial scene. He travels around the city in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes, almost kinglike — the polar opposite of Laura.
“When we see him, we know about him right away because most New Yorkers don’t have drivers and Felix is always dressed up,” Battat says. The light blue seersucker suit he’s wearing when we finally see him was purchased off the rack from Brooks Brothers but was sleek enough to play into the notion that here was a man who had his clothes tailored.
“That suit reflected this larger-than-life character. It was a tailored and fitted look that elevated him. He could be someone who easily had his shirts monogrammed,” Battat explains. The scarves he wears to accentuate his wardrobe with a pinch of chic were scripted by Coppola. “Making Bill look good for this and turning him into this irresistible character,” laughs Battat, “was one of my greatest pleasures.