Lost in Translation

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Lost in Translation A+++

The following review that I have found....I just can't agree more.
The highly auspicious second film from writer-director Sofia Coppola (following 2000's best motion picture, "The Virgin Suicides"), begins jarringly and without a firmly grasped rhythm. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a middle-aged Hollywood actor coaxed into leaving his family and coming to Tokyo to film a whiskey commercial in exchange for a $2-million paycheck. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is a recent Yale grad without any discernible future plans who has accompanied her photographer husband, John (Giovanni Ribisi), to the same overseas city. Being constantly left alone while John chases his next assignment, Charlotte feels empty and lost. For a while, so does the viewer, as we are offered varied, disconnected glimpses of both Bob and Charlotte as they go about their days in a landscape as foreign as the lives they come to realize they have been living. And then Bob and Charlotte—staying in the same hotel—share an elevator ride that ends with a reciprocal smile of acknowledgment, and everything shaky about the preceding twenty minutes suddenly falls into place. It is clear that director Sofia Coppola knew exactly what she was doing all along.

Lyrical and deeply touching, "Lost in Translation" is, first and foremost, the tale of two human beings lost both in their own lives and in their surroundings who unexpectedly discover a kindred connection. From the very beginning, all Bob and Charlotte can muster asking themselves is how they have ended up where they are. Struggling through a wildly different culture than their own and dealing with a serious language barrier, they are stuck in a lonely rut. However, when on their second run-in Bob and Charlotte lock eyes across their smoky hotel bar, the moment they share is not simply one of desperation between two Americans in a foreign setting, but something more. Although Bob is about 25 years Charlotte's senior, their ages are a refreshing non-issue, and when Charlotte approaches Bob and strikes up a conversation, they find themselves understanding each other with more clarity than their significant others' ever have. Writer-director Coppola's assured screenplay never feels the need to enter into a conventional romance between her two central lost souls, but allows the relationship to play out through a more natural set of developments. The result is as intimate, humane, and heartfelt as any love story this year.

Second, "Lost in Translation" is an utterly gorgeous travelogue of Tokyo and its bordering regions. Director Coppola wisely offers no information about the characters' vital backdrop other than what they themselves know, thoughtfully putting the viewer in a place without any advantage over their protagonists. As unusual as the culture and language is to Bob and Charlotte, it is just as bewildering to us. Nonetheless, through its scenic camerawork by cinematographer Lance Acord (2002's "Adaptation"), Tokyo is presented as a rapturous visual delight, unlike any other place on Earth.

Relatedly, Charlotte makes her way late in the film to the city's bordering countryside and ancient temples, and all that needs to be said about the Japanese culture's poignant fight between the past's customs and the present's modern ways—and Charlotte's self-recognition of this very fact—is achieved through a series of completely wordless shots. Not stopping there, Acord and Coppola choose to shoot much of their film as if there is a struggle going on over what framing subject should be in focus and what shouldn't. Sometimes, it takes a few moments for the characters to clear up in a particular scene, as if even through their aesthetic presentation they are constantly on the verge of getting lost in their surroundings. In terms of their innovation and their narrative importance, each shot is simply exquisite.

In essence a two-character motion picture, the picture's ultimate success or failure falls upon the heads of Bill Murray (1998's "Rushmore") and Scarlett Johansson (2001's "Ghost World"), and there will likely not be a more accomplished screen duo for the rest of the year. As Bob Harris, Murray injects his own brand of quirkily winning humor to some scenes, such as a hilariously nightmarish experience on a piece of exercise equipment, and a large helping of unblinking humanity to his every moment. Murray's Bob is a man almost indifferent to his emotionally dead marriage as he continues to go through the motions of his family life and flagging career, and the actor plays these often unspoken subtleties with pitch-perfect grace.

The 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson, playing someone about four years older than she, matches Murray with a wise-beyond-her-years turn that is not surprising from a young actress who has proven her talent in the past, but most definitely is unanticipated. There is true depth, not to mention an emotional tug-of-war, within Charlotte's interior that speaks far louder than words, and it is a testament to Johansson's startlingly mature craft that she nails each and every layer of her complex character.

Giovanni Ribisi (2000's "The Gift") and Anna Faris (2003's "May") turn up in vital supporting roles that are purposefully archetypal rather than three-dimensional, all in the name of further giving Bob and Charlotte very real wake-up calls. Ribisi plays Charlotte's husband, John, as a man who loves his wife without really taking the time to prove it or listen to her. Meanwhile, Faris has some fun as a flaky Hollywood actress in Tokyo promoting her latest action film who is shallow without ever becoming intentionally vain. More could have been done with Faris' small role as Kelly, but all that really needs to be said about her is summed up in her final scene, as she gleefully and cluelessly embarrasses herself singing karaoke to Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better."

The music, with especially notable song selections from The Jesus and Mary Chain, Phoenix, Happy End, Kevin Shields, and My Bloody Valentine, is pitch-perfect, lovingly accentuating every scene they are accompanying rather than merely an excuse to sell soundtrack albums. This is no more true than in the film's two most alive moments—a karaoke free-for-all in which Bill Murray does a charming rendition of "Peace, Love, and Understanding" and Scarlett Johansson performs "Brass in Pocket;" and the heartbreaking closing sequence, which manages to be both hopeful and tragic at the same time without stepping into easy sentimentality. Every last element of "Lost in Translation"—save for the beautiful love story at its center—symbolizes with brilliant clarity the disorienting feeling of being out of place and lost in an alien setting, and it is done without any signs of a heavy hand.

In her sophomore effort, writer-director Sofia Coppola has proven she has the very same filmmaking talent as her father, Francis Ford Coppola, if not more so. She has a way of getting to the heart of her characters and really, truly trying to understand them and their place in the world. "Lost in Translation" is a fascinating and highly original piece of work, while at the same time a compassionate love story that never rings false. When its closing moments arrive, simple and pure, it may just blindside you with its sheer cumulative power.

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How long has this movie been out ? It's only just reached here !

Do you know my poetry?
Originally Posted by MinionTV
How long has this movie been out ? It's only just reached here !
It's been out since September 12, but my cities theater barely got it after I've been waiting 4 months to see it. I saw it on Thursday and loved it, I gave it **** out of ****.
One of my favorite movies of 2003.

It came out recently here too, Mini.
Altho I liked some of it, I wouldn't say it was one of my favorites of 2003. The portrayal of the two main characters was excellent, however I found some parts of the film quite derogatory toward the Japanese in general. It was an original piece of work tho, just didn't captivate my full attention all the way thru.

I did not see it yet!Actly I remember seeing it on tv for the movies and then I forgot about it!Is it still at the movies or on video?
For what I read I think it has a interesting plot and I like Bill Murey he is a good actor!
"What About Bob" is the funnist movie I seen him in!See you around!JM
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i thought the movie was excellent ..the performances by bill murray and scarlett johansson were worth the price of admission alone....

it's still playing in some theatres in new york..not too many tho

Lost in Translation will be released on R1 video February 3rd.
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From the looks of it, Bill Murray is a shoe in for the Oscar this year.

...and Scarlett. Hubba-hubba.
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Bill Murray is never a shoo in. He "should" get a nomination this year, but I thought he damn well should have gotten nominations for Rushmore and Tootsie. He was completely snubbed by The Academy then, and those were only Supporting Acting nominations, which they are generally more lenient and experimental with. I'll believe he's getting a Best Actor nomination after I see it.

Originally Posted by Holden Pike
Bill Murray is never a shoo in. He "should" get a nomination this year, but I thought he damn well should have gotten nominations for Rushmore and Tootsie. He was completely snubbed by The Academy then, and those were only Supporting Acting nominations, which they are generally more lenient and experimental with. I'll believe he's getting a Best Oscar nomination after I see it.
I said that after reading all the top critics choices and all the review boards that have already named him their choice as the winner. So I'm assuming from that. Of course that doesn't really mean anything. But it seems, more often than not, when someone gets an overwhelming amount of industry accolades, they seem to win.

I remember wondering why he was snubbed the Rushmore year, but it isn't the first time the Academy made me scratch my head...Goodfellas for example.

But at least GoodFellas had multiple nominations (and a win for Pesci).

Like I said, I'll believe it when I see it. Yes, Murray has received many, many accolades already, and he is definitely an odds-on favorite for a nod. But ask the multi-Golden Globe-winning actor Jim Carrey if that necessarily translates into Oscar nominations.

I really enjoyed this film, this is a kind of film that gets better in your mind as you reflect on it after seeing it, definately 10/10.

In a year of lame sequels and studio pabulum (oh, wait...that's every year), "Lost In Translation" is excellent and refreshingly different from every formula movie out there. For those who like movies with "mature" subject matter, this is one of the year's best.

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Saw this film tonight and absoloutly loved it. Beautifully shot, emotionally satisfying and amazingly scripted. I fell in love with both Murrey, Johansson and Tokyo. Every scene was so beaitfully shot it portrayed Tokyo as being a intensly bizarre, fun, noisy, beautiful and incredible place to visit. If only i could go there and view the place with the philosophising eyes that Johannson does. what a peacful way to look at such an odd odd place. Great film. Great acting. Great Script. Great Cinematography. Great work. I want Oscars for this film please.
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Yes. 'Twas quite the beautiful movie.
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centering around an ennui-induced may-to-september romance blooming like apple blossom between murray and johansson, coppola captures wonderfully the mood of ennui, particularly in those scenes of johansson lolling around her apartment in pink panties or smoking the night away, or in murray's tired, world-weary face and sardonic repartee. the problem though lies when that ennui overwhelms the characters and starts creeping into the film itself, which ultimately, in places, it does. while the first half is filled with the bright downtown neon lights of tokyo (more like the klf's grimey take on downtown, than lulu's clean original) the second, from after the karaoke scene, doesn't visually hold the attention as much, even as it builds up to the denouement of these two star crossed lovers' affair. that's not to say that the second half fails, just that it is the harder half of the film.

the first half has by far the greater share of the comedy, though some of it seems too easy, bill murray towering over short people, the constant laughs at l's pronounced as r's and r's pronounced as l's and the flicking through the tv channels marvelling at foreign tv. they amuse, but they just seem too easy, too effortless. but slowly even that turns around and the film isn't just about west laughing at east, but also about west laughing at east laughing at west, particularly in the hospital scene where murray's total inability to comprehend what is being said to him makes others laugh at him. and you can't just be laughing at the inherent comedy of foreign cultures when you laugh at the talk show murray appears on, the japanese host being a cross between austin powers and graham norton. the joke's on us, as much as it's on them.

and of course there's the easy celebrity barbs and you can't imagine cameron diaz sending sofia coppola congratulatory telegrams when lost in translation picks up the bangles and baubles it inevitably will in awards season (and nor will sofia's ex, spike jonz, if it's true she based ribisi's character (johansson's photographer husband) on him). whether it's really diaz coppola is digging at or not seems unimportant, the point is whether enough people believe it to be diaz by the starlet hawking her kung-fun action flick. like thirteen recently, this is a fake film within the film that sounds all too promising and almost worth pitching for production. in thirteen there was operation kandahar with john cusack and adventures of ezekiel ball with jack black, and here we have keanu reeves dying and being reincarnated in midnight velocity, which i for one would probly pay money to see.

but of course the love affair is the harder part of the story to tell, the tragedy of the border between love and friendship, bill starting out paternal and laconically indifferent, and slowly the gulf between them growing narrower until all that it would take to step across it is a kiss on the lips. it's all captured wonderfully in the hurt and heartbroken look on johansson's face when she discovers the man she is slowly being drawn towards has had sex with another, no matter how casual or meaningless it turns out to be and no matter that the love between johansson and murray is still unspoken. there is emotional truth in the film in that sense, and without the conventional rom-com happy ending of happy couples living happily ever after, lost in translation seems easily superior to a lot of the other rom-coms out there. the happy ending is left for other movies and here he goes home to a marriage going through turbulence on auto-pilot and she's left with her marriage, to make of it what she will. his whispered farewell to her - telling her to tell the truth, presumably to her husband about what has happened the past few days - suggests that this emotional entanglement will not of itself destroy her marriage but nor will it necessarily make it stronger.

the slow closing of the gulf between these two strangers in a strange place is done nicely, she seductively singing the pretender's brass in pocket and he singing back with roxy music's more than this, and despite all the others in the karaoke booth with them, they're singing to each other and you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. and the next night, as they meet in her hotel room and watch marcello mastroianni and anita ekberg cavort in the trevi fountain in la dolce vita, they draw closest, lying side-by-side on her bed, talking their lives away, and only the gentlest of touch from murray's fingers on her bare feet as physical contact between them. but emotionally they already seem joined at the hip, joined at both hips. while their affair has been chaste, it ends with johansson being chased down a tokyo street by murray on his way to the airport, a kiss-and-make-up final farewell and that whisper that allows them both to get back to their own lives, still always having tokyo.

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Originally Posted by LordSlaytan
From the looks of it, Bill Murray is a shoe in for the Oscar this year.

...and Scarlett. Hubba-hubba.
They both just got BAFTAs, if that's worth anything

Nice review bte LoopDiLoop. I haven't seen it yet, but your review seems to sum up nicely all the reviews and scenes i have seen (including my reservations about some of the "easy" culture comedy)
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This may be a bit late, but great review jrs! I coudn't agree more. In retrospect, this is one of my favorite movies.

Quite definitely the best movie of the last 10 years.
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