Lost in Translation

Year: 2003
Production Co: Focus Features
Director: Sofia Coppola
Producer: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
I liked the idea of this film a lot more than the film itself. My favourite actor of all time, one of the most promising new actresses of recent times and a filmmaker with an appeal that sits somewhere between deep & indie and romantic & accessible.

Unfortunately, Coppola stops this being a great movie by spending too much time setting the mood rather than telling the story, and the story is too short for a feature film.

It's an effective travelogue for Japan - a land Copolla's spoken of having a close emotional connnection with and obviously loves - showing the foibles and fads alongside the history and cultural beauty, both showcased by the travels of Bob and Charlotte (from the sombre temples and marriage ceremony to the nightclubs, karaoke and the technology behind their advertising).

Bob (Murray) is a has-been action movie star in Tokyo to endorse a whiskey. Charlotte (Johansson) is with her husband (Ribisi), a fashion photographer who abandons her to wander the city alone while he jets from one assignment to another and hangs around with airheads, one of whom (Faris) both Charlotte and us suspect he's having an affair with.

The kernel of the story is that they're both feeling lost and alone with no knowledge of the customs or language, so they connect with each other, forming a friendship that floats somewhere between platonic and romantic.

Coppola effectively portrays the feeling of having found someone and wanting to stick with them, with a lot of scenes where Bob and Charlotte do the things we do with our friends in real life (watching old movie togther, going to parties, cab rides through the city, singing karaoke etc).

But, just as it's a sort of holiday, real life has to intrude again and Bob has to go home to the wife and family he's felt ever more distant from. There's no real resolution despite their final touch and Bob's unheard whisper to Charlotte, apart perhaps from the fact that when we're alone, we want to be found (which also happens to be the tagline).

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