Sofia Coppola’s sophomore motion picture is a film worth hailing. The plot is so simple, yet so utterly captivating at the same time. Every aspect of the movie is truly worth applauding, be it the soundtrack, the tremendous lead performances (Murray in particular), the consummate cinematography, the wonderfully written screenplay, or the stellar direction. Lost in Translation is an instant classic that will inspire a desire to experience the intense art and emotion again and again.
Lost in Translation depicts the story of two strangers in a strange land, who feel alone and who are each in great need a comforting companion. The film proves that short-lived relationships can have life-long impacts.
Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a fading American actor who travels to Tokyo to complete a photo shoot and a commercial for a Japanese brand of whiskey called Suntory. While feeling “lost” in this foreign land, Bob desires to feel something real and to make the best of his time in Japan. To kill his unhappiness and loneliness, he heads to the bar to sip on his favorite whiskey. “For relaxing times, make it Suntory times.”
While in the bar, Bob meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a recent Yale graduate, who is unsure if she married the right man and who is stuck in one of life’s ruts. Bob and Charlotte quickly relate to each other and develop a friendship. Before they know it, they are spending virtually every second together — building their friendship. However, they both know that their time together will soon have to cease.
The connection between Bob and Charlotte is the film’s core, and the actors’ portrayals of these characters escalate the film to an absolutely top-notch endeavor. Murray plays his career-defining role, and Scarlett Johansson, who complements Murray perfectly, gets to show off both her pretty looks and her huge potential as one of Hollywood’s rising stars.
Sofia Coppola has simply made her father proud, and with this feature, maybe even a little jealous. From now on, when people see or hear her name associated with a production, she will already have their attention and most likely their box-office support. With this feature, her writing and directing are both superb.
Even though the film does require some patience in the beginning, in no way is it a bore to behold. Several key scenes will surely stay with you for weeks, including the conversation observed through the reflection of the windowpane, the comforting pillow talk, and the perfectly-executed and poignant climax. All of these sequences, along with the overall fantastical and warming aura that the picture emits, combine to create a masterpiece that should be a part of every movie buff’s DVD collection.
On the cover of Lost in Translation’s Focus Feature DVD, it reads, “Over 80 four-star rave reviews!”, and unsurprisingly, it has gained yet another one. Without hesitation, I give this film my highest recommendation.
(**** out of ****)