LOST IN TRANSLATION
Following The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola turned to Japan as a setting for her next big project: Lost In Translation. The romantic comedy depicts the birth of a friendship (maybe more) between a middle-aged actor and a young woman who is staying in the same hotel.
Lost In Translation was a big success back in 2003, earning itself Academy Award nominations, making an impressive profit and putting actress Scarlett Johansson on the map once and for all. Coppola's directing style proving very different to her father's but also very effective. The cinematography and excellent soundtrack give this film a dream-like quality that makes you want to get lost in Tokyo with these two characters. There's a familiar yet fresh vibe to this movie that makes its setting very approachable, very warm and cozy.
Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson are frankly adorable together. Murray brings his deadpan hound-dog style of humor to the table while Johansson is not only charming as hell but funny also, giving a genuine, surprisingly layered performance. Both are terrific and give these characters something human, something real we can all recognize in ourselves. And so, the bittersweet ending works remarkably well, leaving you heartbroken but somehow refreshed.
The film pokes fun at these characters' failure to quite grasp Japan's culture, but celebrates how different it is to the one that the characters are used to - which is exactly why they love it so much. The film then goes deeper to try and make us understand how these two vastly different people, at completely different stages in their lives, could fall for each other. There's true joy as you see these characters slowly get together, looking freer and happier than they've been in some time, we assume, and then shock when it turns out that the lives they dreamed of leaving behind are not something they are able to fully abandon. Perhaps they'll learn something from this Tokyo trip, or perhaps this short, powerful moment was all it could be.
Written and directed with great care and attention, Lost In Translation is a beautiful little gem. So simple in the story it tells and how it tells it, but so inviting and compelling you'll never want to leave it.