← Back to Reviews
\
rh
I happened to see Roman Holiday for the first time, shortly after my 4th viewing of Lost in Translation. I caught a few reminders, the first time through, of the newer film. A second viewing, pen in hand, yeilded the following points, all of which are common to both films:


Had the pleasure of watching a most charming movie this afternoon? It?s a story about two people who are away from home, kindred spirits who see each other very clearly and come to understand and care about each other in rather whirlwind fashion, but while their connection is genuine and beautiful, it is doomed from the start by the commitments in their lives.

Opening scene, we meet our young heroine: fresh-faced and pretty, intelligent, educated, the embodiment of sweetness and decency. She is not alone, and yet terribly isolated, emotionally. Even when she allows herself an emotional outburst, the people closest to her are unphased and oblivious. Our heroine listlessly looks out her window over a strange city, and we feel how much she wants to experience the place... to connect to something. This is our introduction to the silent character in the piece: the city itself and the strange culture we?ll soon explore, and it isn?t long before she ventures out. We explore the city over her shoulder as she wanders the streets alone, rather aimlessly, taking in the history in the architecture, enjoying the food and music and interacting shyly with the locals. She begins a detached observer, but gradually allows herself to be affected by the charm of a new place ? purchasing a souvenir specific to the culture. She is touched at one point, by the written wishes of the people, and participates in the ritual herself.

At this point, she runs into a man she had met fleetingly, a little earlier: also a displaced traveler and a little older and streetwise than she, they form a pact to escape into the city and enjoy all it can offer together. They share a smoke, a few drinks, music at a party and escape a light-hearted scuffle in the city streets. He provides a safe means for her to escape her confinement and experience not just the city, but herself, in this new place. He assists her in a moment of distress, and amusingly attempts conversation in the local language ? naturally, the overall effect is charming as hell. ?Nice guy?, we find ourselves observing.

A third character provides counterpoint to the friendship of our happy couple: a photographer ? a bit shallow, bit of a flirt, but a good guy at heart, we see the contrast between the choices he makes in dealing with people and those made by our central characters. There?s the suggestion that he might not be entirely decent, bringing onto the screen the reality that our central characters have options that they actively decide (despite strong feeling) not to take. They do spend a night together, but fully clothed and nothing untoward happens. In the end, our hero chooses not to take advantage of this situation, and our heroine chooses to return to the duties of her life. We see the longing in him as he sits in his car and watches her walk away.

rh2
This is a tale of a refreshingly different ?movie romance?. It was fabulously received, garnered an array of Academy accolades and launched the career of a lovely fresh face ? Audrey Hepburn, who won the Oscar for best actress in this film: Roman Holiday.

So, how does it compare to Lost In Translation? Easy: every point above is true of both movies. True, Johansson's character is not a princess, but a philosophy major (and really... same diff, no?) and she didn't get an Academy nod for her performance in LiT, but there's no missing the fact that it's launched her career. I found the similarities striking, and yet both are firmly enough rooted in their "present" days, that they feel different.