Film: Lost In Translation

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Film:

Lost In Translation

Director: Sofia Coppola
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Universal Studios

Like a good dream, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation envelops you with an aura of fantastic light, moody sound, head-turning love, and a feeling of déjà vu, even though you’ve probably never been to this neon-fused version of Tokyo. Certainly Bob Harris has not. The 50-ish actor has signed on for big money shooting whiskey ads instead of doing something good for his career or his long-distance family. Jetlagged, helplessly lost with his Japanese-speaking director, and out of sync with the metropolis, Harris (Bill Murray, never better) befriends the…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Like a good dream, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation envelops you with an aura of fantastic light, moody sound, head-turning love, and a feeling of déjà vu, even though you’ve probably never been to this neon-fused version of Tokyo. Certainly Bob Harris has not. The 50-ish actor has signed on for big money shooting whiskey ads instead of doing something good for his career or his long-distance family. Jetlagged, helplessly lost with his Japanese-speaking director, and out of sync with the metropolis, Harris (Bill Murray, never better) befriends the married but lovelorn 25-year-old Charlotte (played with heaps of poise by 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson). Even before her photographer husband all but abandons her, she is adrift like Harris but in a total entrapment of youth. How Charlotte and Bill discover they are soul mates will be cherished for years to come. Written and directed by Coppola (The Virgin Suicides), the film is far more atmospheric than plot-driven: we whiz through Tokyo parties, karaoke bars, and odd nightlife, always ending up in the impossibly posh hotel where the two are staying. The wisps of bittersweet loneliness of Bill and Charlotte are handled smartly and romantically, but unlike modern studio films, this isn’t a May-November fling film. Surely and steadily, the film ends on a much-talked-about grace note, which may burn some, yet awards film lovers who “always had Paris” with another cinematic destination of the heart. —Doug Thomas

Barnes and Noble

The undisputed sleeper hit of 2003, this utterly captivating little drama richly deserves its critical and commercial success, and we’re happy to report that, if anything, it’s even more bewitching when seen on a small screen. Lost in Translation tells a deceptively slight story, but under the direction of Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides) it becomes an unusually engrossing tale of the basic human longing for connection. Bill Murray, in what is surely his best screen performance to date, portrays a middle-aged movie star whose career is on the wane. Sent to Tokyo to shoot a high-paying series of commercials, the severely jet-lagged actor befriends a commercial photographer’s young wife (Scarlett Johansson), who’s feeling extremely dislocated and having second thoughts about her hastily arranged marriage while her husband (Giovanni Ribisi) is off on various shoots. The unlikely friendship that springs up between actor and wife—he’s old enough to be her father—animates this film, which perfectly conveys their simultaneous feelings of loneliness, alienation, and exhaustion. Coppola’s script is remarkably short on dialogue, and her direction is preternaturally sensitive and understated. The leading characters’ intensity of feeling is conveyed with the simplest of looks and gestures, and there’s an almost voyeuristic thrill of discovery to be had while watching their relationship develop from sequence to sequence. Murray’s performance is commendable in its restraint, but Johansson’s is even more remarkable, especially since she’s playing a character who is several years older than she is. Supporting players Ribisi and Anna Faris (as a ditzy blonde actress, reportedly modeled on Cameron Diaz) do fine work; but this show belongs to its two stars. It’s extremely rare for such a modest film to be so affecting, but Lost in Translation has beaten the odds, proving yet again that a movie doesn’t need lavish special effects, big-name stars, or elaborate action scenes to etch itself forever in your memory. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Lost in Translation: Music from the Motion Picture

Lost in Translation: Music from the Motion Picture

Brian Reitzell, Kevin Shields

Sofia Coppola has, with two elegant movies, proved herself a talented director with a keen eye for interior life. She’s also got great ears. For Lost in Translation, the story of a May to December friendship in Tokyo between two displaced Americans, the score is a tonic for jetlag. Coppola prescribes a dose of shoegazer pop, from My Bloody Valentine’s chiming “Sometimes” to Jesus & Mary Chain’s fuzzed-out “Just Like Honey”. The music nails the hazy conscious state of actors Bill Murray (as a movie star in a midlife crisis) and Scarlet Johansson (as an…

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