Classic Review – Lost in Translation (2003)

Title – Lost in Translation (2003)

Director – Sofia Coppola (Somewhere)

Cast – Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Farris

Plot – Fading movie star Bob Harris (Murray) and lost 20 something Charlotte (Johansson) meet each other in Tokyo and find that their bond may be the spark that reignites their lives.

“Let’s never come here again because it would never be as much fun”

Review by Eddie on 30/01/2020

The little film that could, Lost in Translation somehow managed to make a friendship/romance between Bill Murray’s downtrodden actor Bob Harris and Scarlett Johansson’s meandering Charlotte be both believable and lovable, as the two kindred spirits find solace in one another’s company against the backdrop of the sights and sounds of one of the world’s most vibrant and unique cities, Tokyo.

From humble beginnings as a $4 million dollar film, through to a box office worldwide smash and Oscar winning critical darling, Sofia Coppola’s considered and heartfelt love letter to the Japanese city and lost souls that can inhabit it holds up today as deeply personal and affectionate drama that would be hard to repeat and features arguably career-high moments for all involved.

Following up her well regarded debut The Virgin Suicides, Coppola instills Translation with a sense of wonder, everyday pondering and minuscule, yet wonderful as we witness the birth of a friendship between Harris and Charlotte that comes about through a mutual feeling in each of their lives that something is not quite as it should be, extenuated by the fact the alive, bustling and colorful city of Tokyo has awakened their feelings of loneliness and unhappiness in a life altering moment of time that will see the two’s lives changed for ever.

The film is lovingly directed by Coppola, there’s not a lot of flash or pizazz here, Translation is very much an intimate film but by placing it within the surrounds of Tokyo, every inch of Translation feels alive and filled with moments of gentleness, wonder or whimsy that is memorably played out by its two leads.

It could be justifiably argued that Translation features the last truly great Murray performance, with the esteemed comedic actor fitting perfectly into the shoes of the deadpan Harris while Johansson has gone on to feature in some of the era’s biggest films, there’s a vulnerability and rawness to Charlotte and her performance that hasn’t been mined to the same depths since Coppola did here with the two A-listers enjoying their time playing out a script that won Coppola a well-deserved Oscar.

One could watch this Oscar winning film and say that not much happens, there’s a lot of time dedicated to both Bob and Charlotte wondering around experiencing the sights and sounds of Tokyo or simply stuck in a dive of a hotel bar with bad cover singers, while the two main characters don’t even really interact till around 30 minutes into the film but there’s a dreamlike quality to what Coppola has done here, allowing us as an audience to be swept away by the otherworldly like nature of the city in which our on paper mismatched duo find themselves in.

Come the films emotionally charged and much talked about and debated final segments, you quickly begin to realise that Translation has the powerful ability to grasp the viewer into a daze like state that’s meaning and heart become more apparent as you sit and ponder the one-off magic of Coppola’s lightning in a bottle film.

Final Say –

Lost in Translation isn’t a perfect film but it’s a heartfelt true to life tale that acts as not only a showcase for its director and two leads, but the magical city of Tokyo that represents another world entirely filled with hope, dreams and the potential to find oneself in amongst the flashing neon lights and bustling streetscapes.

4 angry barman out of 5

2 responses to “Classic Review – Lost in Translation (2003)

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