connect in familiarity;
Sofia Coppola’s new film exudes skill and grace, lifted ever higher by the unmistakably amazing performances by the legend perfectionist Bill Murray and powerful newcomer Scarlett Johansson. ‘Lost in Translation‘ holds a poignant depth of character and story. Reveling in both subtlety and potent exuberance, the film tells a tale of two half-lost souls in a physically and figuratively foreign world that find each other and connect in an incredible, personal bond. And the bond is made all the more powerful and profound by a lack of physical passion to cheaply illustrate the connection.
It’s rare to find such a perfect balance in a film. It firmly journeys in utter determination, not to be swayed to making statements or indulging in cheap theatrics. ‘Lost in Translation’ instead sticks to an honest portrayal of these primary characters and their relations to each other, keeping to the delicate balance of life. The story is neither sad nor happy, neither discouraging nor inspirational, neither subtle nor exuberant. It walks deliberately along its curving path with no hidden agendas distracting it.
Actually, Charlotte (Johansson) and Bob Harris (Murray) were the film. Without these two, ‘Lost in Translation’ would have been nothing; and it’s accomplishment hinged upon the actors who played them. The delicate skill may at times bore some, but to others amaze them. And yet, it isn’t trapped in the constant boorishness that such a film is prone to, and has been a downfall of otherwise incredible films with incredible performances such as the recent “About Schmidt,” which takes a fine appreciation and patience to find fascinating. In fact, sometimes the film is downright fun and hilarious, despite the film not generally being of laugh-out-loud gut laughter, particularly thanks to the dead-pan humor emanating from Bill Murray.
What the film shows us is a very identifiable and honest vision of two people perpetually lost in the worlds they live, and finding a home in each other. They magnetically come together to create a world within a world to which they finally feel they belong and connect to someone in. The process is a delicate meander at first, tip toeing with a cautious curiosity that calls to them. But once the walls have been crumbled down, the bond is unmistakable and consuming.
And despite all this exquisite content, the film is a wondrous work of cinematography and editing. Quite frankly, it is a beautiful film. Yet there remains nothing of beauty without function. The film flows with ease as each shot remains an artistic vision in its own right of clarity, purpose, and beauty. And throughout the film, a sense of isolation, and of another world, surrounds these characters both when alone and especially when with each other, while being among the busy masses of people that sometimes seem to wish to snuff them right out of existence.
A powerful and an ultimately simple film, ‘Lost in Translation’ finds a jewel of a story, with an incredible pair of leads and an amazing vision to bring it to life. Perhaps the best film of the current year to hit theaters so far. It contains a power that resonates in gripping subtlety.
Website Review: (http://www.lost-in-translation.com/home.html) A very attractive site, with some interesting information nestled inside. Go to “behind the scenes” to find the only interesting info with a lengthy Q&A and a short interview clip. There are a few wallpapers littered around the site as well.
(Review ©2003 by Joshua Parkinson, posted originally at http://www.eatingpeanuts.com)