Loneliness is one of the most palpable of all human emotions. It can be a dull ache beating in the center of your heart, a restlessness in the pit of your soul; an overwhelming desire to touch and be touched by another human being; to feel as though you belong to the human race. Loneliness and chance friendship is at the nexus of newly anointed writer/director Sophia Coppolas (The Virgin Suicides, 2000) Lost in Translation (2004).
I was prepared to hate this movie despite all of the positive press, main because I have little love or regard for Bill Murray, but I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying and even empathizing with the movie. It could be because I know what it feels like to be living in a land not your own. Its at times like these when the loneliness feels like it will eat you alive, and youll do anything to beat back the beat, to make a connection however tenuous and fleeting. And so I came out of the other side of Lost in Translation with a smile on my lips and warm glow in my reviewers heart.
Lost in Translation takes place in Tokyo Japan, and follows two principle characters: Charlotte portrayed by Scarlett Johansson (The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Match Point, The Prestige) who is married to John portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Flight of the Phoenix) a photographer on assignment, and; Bob portrayed by Bill Murray (Caddyshack, Tootsie, Ghost Busters), as struggling actor in country to shoot a bourbon commercial for a nice sum of money.
Neither Charlotte nor Bob (such a benign name) can sleep at night and both end up in the bar of the Park Hyatt Tokyo where they both were staying, looking for a place to be. Their relationship starts out innocent enoughCharlotte is after all young enough to be Bobs daughterand it quickly takes on a sweet intimacy and easy platonic association that could have only happened in a place alien to them both. There are tiny hints that there could be something more between them, but it never takes wing, and that, believe it or not, made Lost in Translation more endearing, and dare I say believable.
Sophia Coppola gives us a story that at times languishes on the edge of boredom, but never fully commits. Those moments were designed to depict the empty nature of loneliness and what it can drive us to do in order to remain sane. We also get a glimpse into the ever fascinating and weird Japanese culture with its strange games shows and preoccupation with video game parlors and all things karaoke. And we are also introduced to the blinding collage of colors that is the city of Tokyo at night. One of my most enduring memories from my travels with the Navy is seeing Tokyo lit up at night like an endless celebration of Christmas in neon. By day the city is rather grey, but at night
In only her second time behind the lens Coppola gives us a poised, intelligent movie that balances a smattering of comedic moments with poignancy rarely glimpsed in American movies.
I have to agree with other reviews when they proclaim Bill Murrays performance in this movie his finest to date. Gone (mostly) is the annoying quirkiness that I so despised in the actors other movies. In Lost in Translation we are greeted by a fully grown up Bill Murray and he is a likeable fellow, who is only occasionally given to silliness. But in this case its endearing and welcome.
Scarlett Johansson also turns in a surprisingly weighty performance as a newly wed woman searching for her place in the world. Johansson makes Charlotte's loneliness and disillusionment palpable as the woman is cut off from life in ways she never imagined; her husband barely notices her, and her family back home in the U.S. has all but forgotten her.
As I stated above when the credits rolled at the end of Lost in Translation a movie I thought would hold no allure for me was utterly enjoyed. This is a smart movie that begs the viewer to pay attention to the subtle: lingering eyes and body gestures are just as important to the story as the spoken word. The end of Lost in Translation may leave some frustrated, but I think it was a fitting end to a delightful well written, rather poetic movie.
Principle Actors: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi.
Director: Sophia Coppola
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.
Number of Discs: (1)
Rating: R for sequences language, nudity.
Studio: Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
Run Time: 102 Minutes
DVD Features: N/a
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age
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