Lost In Translation


"To best illustrate how much I enjoyed the film, Chungking Express, Wong Kar Wai's much-loved masterpiece (and my all-time favorite Asian film), is ALMOST as good as Lost in Translation."

- Alexander

Lost In Translation (2003)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Writer: Sofia Coppola

Producer: Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Roos, Sofia Coppola 

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Anna Faris, Giovanni Ribisi, Fumihiro Hayashi

Running Time: 102 min.

Plot: This is the story of two Americans, a washed-up TV star (Murray) in town for a TV whiskey commercial shoot, and the (very) young wife (Johansson) of a photographer, who meet in Tokyo, Japan and end up spending a weekend hanging out there together on a "soul-searching mission."


ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: This is a stupid thing to admit to, but the reason I never bothered with Lost in Translation was because I had seen so many "previously viewed" copies for sale at the local Hollywood Video. I figured that because previously viewed copies of Lost in Translation outnumbered those of, say, Johnny Depp's Secret Window 5 to 1, then the movie obviously didn't get much rental action and the joint had to dump their surplus of older crap movies to make room for new crap movies. I'm not sure if this theory is an accurate one, but upon finally giving in to curiosity I discovered Lost in Translation to be one of the best, most moving movies I have ever seen.

The plot is simple: Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, an aging actor earning a quick buck by appearing in a series of Japanese whiskey commercials. While staying in a Tokyo Hyatt he meets fellow American, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), who is in Japan with her mostly-absent photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi). Most of the movie chronicles the comfort and companionship Bob and Charlotte provide one another in a very alien place and in the absence of their spouses.

There's so much to base my recommendation on.

The acting in this film is superb. Murray was well-deserving of his Oscar nomination in 2003 and I'd argue that Lost in Translation features his best performance to date. I'm not sure how much of the character of Bob Harris IS Bill Murray (they're both aging actors in the twilight of their careers, after all), but Murray brings an unexpected warmth, subtle wit, humanity and humility to his role.

Johansson is also fantastic as Charlotte. She's at once vulnerable, naive, independent, curious, witty, seductive and smart. While the roundness of her character was written into Sofia Coppola's Oscar-winning script, I couldn't imagine another young actress so effectively and movingly portraying Charlotte.

The script is at times hilarious, sentimental and uplifting. The dialogue is sharp and the plot never meanders, even during some of the longer dialogue-less scenes. (The camera often lingers on the scenery, which, far from being boring, results in some absolutely gorgeous shots of Tokyo and Kyoto. Really, I've never seen Asia as beautifully filmed as it is in Lost in Translation. The cimematography, by Lance Acord, is unparalled, and rivals--and at times exceeds--that of Chungking Express's revered Director of Photography, Christopher Doyle.)

I could go on, but I'll simply end this review by imploring you to give Lost in Translation a shot. To best illustrate how much I enjoyed the film, Chungking Express, Wong Kar Wai's much-loved masterpiece (and my all-time favorite Asian film), is ALMOST as good as Lost in Translation.

ALEXANDER'S RATING: 10/10 (Perfect.)