"Lost in Translation"
Director: Sofia Coppola
Producer: Sofia Coppola, Ross Katz
Screenwriter: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
MPAA Rating: R
Review by Jade Sharma
The cinematic seventh seal has been broken with Bill Murray’s deconstructionist Karaoke version of Roxy Music’s "More Than This" in Sophia Coppola’s second movie, Lost in Translation. Murray plays the role of Bob Harris, a fictitious character mimicking his own real-life stardom, struggling with the both success and ultimate meaninglessness of his grandiose life. While filming a multi-million dollar whiskey commercial in Japan, Bob meets a young American woman named Charlotte also staying in his same swanky Tokyo Hotel. Charlotte, a young twenties-something Yale graduate is struggling to find her identity within in her new marriage to a glitzy photographer (Giovanni Ribisi) who remains out of focus when it comes to their seeming incompatibility. Bob, a married man of 25 years, is always trying to come to grips with his struggling relationship coupled with a career crisis.
When the two jet-lagged Americans finally do connect with each other in the cocktail bar after hours, it seems they find an easy and fun oasis with each other amidst the desert of isolation. Bob has a week alone to himself in the city, while Charlotte is mostly waiting for her husband to return from a photography shoot in some other city in Japan. And so the two begin to enjoy each other’s company, experiencing the strange outings in the highly gadget-oriented city, rife with confusion and urban stimulus.
Yet it is within this chaotic urban cityscape that director Sophia Coppola has introduced the third, and perhaps most important character, the city of Tokyo itself. Filled with quiet sequences unveiling the visual panorama of various buildings, people, and buzzing streets, the personification of Tokyo envelops both Bob and Charlotte as their fast-forming companionship seems to render a stronger connection than originally anticipated. Though it is relieving when the movie neglects to focus on the gratuitous angle of yet another much older man and fresh flowering woman finding love with each other, it certainly does provide an interesting delineation of companionship somewhat difficult to categorize. Both characters have come to independent realizations that they’re lost in the translation of their own lives as well as in the foreign city hosting them upon meeting each other an indelible connection is made.
Equally important in this film is the soundtrack. Light scoring by Kevin Shields throughout the movie helps along the swells of silence accompanying Coppola’s cinematography serving as the keyhole into this Asian capitol. Along with a few older songs by My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain and the aforementioned "More Than This" by Roxy Music, the sweetness of the movie’s music is tinged by the light sadness of the story.
Lost in Translation gives the audience an open-ended sense of possibility in the small ways connections can have an enormous effect on people. Bob and Charlotte couldn’t find themselves, but they found each other, and because of that, their worlds opened up with new breath of life.