Lost In Translation (2003)
review by Collin Kelley
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
Length 1 hr. 45 min.
Absolutely one of the best films of the year. Bill Murray is a wonder as a melancholy, aging Hollywood actor named Bob Harris in Tokyo collecting a cool $2 million for making a series of whiskey advertisements. Murray does provide some laughs (especially with a high-class call girl who wants Murray to brutalize her) but they are tinged with sadness as it is obvious Bob has lost his love for acting and the whole celebrity game.
He has a wife at home (never seen, but who sends endless faxes and shrill phone calls about her ordeal with redecorating their LA home) and two kids who miss him, but he is adrift in Tokyo for a week and unable to sleep in the ultra-modern hotel. One night at the bar he meets Charlotte (the brilliant Scarlett Johansson), also adrift in the city as her celebrity photographer husband hob-knobs with vacuous actresses and rock stars. She has been wandering the halls, the streets and trying to decide if she made a mistake marrying her husband. Bob and Charlotte strike up a conversation one night in the hotel bar and become fast friends. They go to lunch together, sit up at night watching bad Japanese TV and go out for a memorable evening of karaoke. These two obviously need each other and it is a wonder to watch their non-sexual friendship evolve over their days together.
I was concerned this was going to be one of those films where the old guy seduces the young girl, but this isn't that kind of film. However, by the end, I was hoping they would get together. Murray and Johansson have a chemistry that is almost unexplainable. They are a joy to watch interacting with each other in the dizzying, almost frightening backdrop of Tokyo with its neon signs, skyscrapers, traffic jams and video arcades. However it is the film's quiet moments (Bob and Charlotte staring out the windows of their hotel rooms over the high-tech mania of the city; Charlotte observing a wedding ceremony in Kyoto; the two of them sleep-deprived and leaning on each other for support at a bar) that really shine through.
Coppola has written and directed a truly wonderful film full of deadpan
humor and ultimately of sadness and separation. The scene's final moment
left me surprisingly moved. Lost in Translation is the opening
salvo for the Oscar race. Both Murray and Johansson deserve nominations,
and Murray just might deserve the win.
review by Collin Kelley 9/2003
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