Lost in Translation
Starring:
Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
Directed By :
Sofia Coppola
Grade
B+

Lost in Translation takes place entirely in downtown Tokyo. It's seen largely from the point-of-view of Bob (Murray), a former action movie star who has aged to the point where he needs to find a new role to play in movies and in life. We also see Tokyo from Charlotte's (Johansson) p.o.v.; she's a recently graduated philosophy student struggling to find her role in life. Bob is in Tokyo being paid an obscene amount of money to promote a brand of whiskey, cashing in on his late-blooming Japanese fame, while he takes a "vacation" from his love lost marriage of 25 years. Charlotte has accompanied her husband of 2 years (Ribisi) while he does a high profile photo shoot. Bob and Charlotte are staying in the same hotel and end up developing a unique relationship similar to that of a shipwreck victim adrift at sea who spots a piece of driftwood.

This movie: not for everyone. Don't bring the kids. If you're a kid, don't go. It requires relaxing and letting the movie happen without needing to be stimulated. It's a mix of the wild cacophony of Tokyo and the loneliness of two people lost in a foreign - well, a foreign everything. This movie isn't really about entertaining or telling a story so much as creating a mood that pervades the film. The two main characters feel a lot, but they don't put much of it into words, and yet to Copolla's credit we understand them by the end of the film. The movie is wonderfully directed and fantastically acted. It's a treat to see Murray so candid, and the film would be an entirely different creature if not for his performance. A lot of the humor in the film comes from his bland reactions to the awkward situations he finds himself in when dealing with the Japanese populace.

If you like dramas or offbeat films, this one is for you. And anyone into Japanese culture will be treated to a sampling of a great many staples of it, and seeing someone exposed to it for the first time. I enjoyed the film particularly for this aspect, as I'm huge into anything Japanese. Bob and Charlotte's romance is the most low key one on the screen in a long time, and the ending of the movie is both gratifying and touching. A real treat for film fans of this type.

It's all in the details: Pay attention to Copolla's directing - some of it is obvious, some of it less so. For instance, we never see John's (Ribisi) face clearly without large glasses on it or from a quick sideways angle except in the old picture Charlotte has of them. Another way to show the disconnectedness between Charlotte's drifting in life and John's hustle and bustle lifestyle. Whereas all the takes with Charlotte and Bob are long cuts -

- - Jeff Light

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