With regard to Lost in Translation, she wrote the screenplay as well as directed it, evoking brilliant performances from Bill Murray (as Bob Harris) and Scarlett Johansson (as Charlotte). For me, the title suggests multiple dimensions of irony. Some are obviously related to Harris, familiar to those in Tokyo who recognize him but certainly adrift (if not totally lost) in a culture foreign to him in almost every possible way. Other ironies involve communication difficulties unrelated to fluency in language. For example, even after two years of marriage, Charlotte and John (Giovanni Ribisi) are -- to a significant extent -- strangers to each other as are Bob and his wife back in the United States to whom he has been married for quite some time. Moreover, much of the communication between Charlotte and Bob is also lost in translation, more the result (I think) of generational than linguistic differences. All this suggests an important point to me: It is difficult (if not impossible) for others to know who you are if you don't. It is also so important, moreover, to know who you aren't. Presumably Bob has been struggling with these issues, at least since his career began to evaporate. Both Bob and Charlotte are at or near a crossroad in their respective lives when they first meet. After several days together, their relationship arrives at another crossroad. Which way to go? Where is his life headed? And hers? Will they proceed together?
Here are two of several reasons why I admire this film so much. First, thanks to Coppola and her superb cast, it has exceptional charm. There are so many targets of opportunity for a cynical statement. However, to her great credit, she ignores them all. Although there are highly amusing (sometimes zany) moments along the way, to be sure, Coppola develops the characters of Bob and Charlotte with respect and affection but never with condescension. The second reason is that this film has great natural energy which Coppola juxtaposes with moments of intimacy, tenderness, reflection, and even poignancy. To achieve that, Coppola and Lance Acord blend as well as balance exterior shots of Tokyo at night (which resembles Las Vegas) with exterior shots of religious shrines during the day, thereby complementing Charlotte and Bob's diverse moods as they explore at least some of the country in which they feel lost.
Given what she achieves in this film, I am eager to see how Coppola's career develops in years to come. My hunch (only a hunch) is that her talents are more diverse than those of her father (e.g. slapstick comedy) and thus the nature and extent of opportunities which await her are greater than those available to him after the first Godfather film (1972). He must be a very proud father....and should be.
FYI: The special features of the DVD version include a conversation with Coppola and Murray, a behind-the-scenes featurette which includes exclusive footage shot by the filmmakers ("Lost on Location"), several deleted scenes, and an extended version of the Japanese TV show, "Matthew's Best Hit TV."
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