Lost in Translation (2003)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Faris

Synopsis: A former B-movie star suffering from a midlife crisis and a young, married college grad who feels empty and alone strike up a friendship whilst in Tokyo (the capital of fucked-uppery).

I’ve never been to Tokyo myself but I know quite a lot of people who have been and they all say that Lost in Translation presents an honest portrayal of the city. It’s a city that is completely foreign. Everything is different: the language, the layout of the city, the food, the culture. It’s a total mind fuck and Sofia Coppola does a brilliant job of latching onto that foreign identity and manipulating it in a way that is exhilarating, comical, and endearing. Lost in Translation is a brilliant film that explores themes of loneliness and intimacy whilst being set in the largest city in the world. It’s a perfect juxtaposition!

There has been some criticism leveled at the film for its portrayal of Japan. Critics have argued that the film presents new, urban, and built-up Japan negatively whereas old, traditional, ornate Japan is portrayed positively. I think that this is a superficial observation. It’s not as simple as ‘old is good’ and ‘new is bad.’ What the film is actually doing is celebrating intimacy. You have two characters that lack a level of intimacy in their personal lives and are finding it difficult to adjust to their new environment. They then meet and share their worries, problems, and friendship through an elaborate and crazy series of events. They share a bond and level of intimacy that is foreign to them both. The intimacy is not just seen in their relationship but also in their surroundings. The wedding scene and the flower arranging scene, in particular, display a wonderful closeness and connection. The streets of Tokyo are fun, loud, and adventurous but there’s more to the city, and life, than that. The film shows that even in the most hectic place on earth you can find something and someone special to share everything with. That’s a beautiful message.

It was a stroke of luck that the two main actors shared an enormous amount of chemistry on screen. Neither overshadows the other and they play to each other’s strengths. Bill Murray is terrifyingly convincing as a former actor dealing with a midlife crisis. He brings a touching melancholy to the role and his comedic timing and delivery of lines was perfect. Similarly, Johansson plays her part with an appropriate aloofness that cracks occasionally, showing a troubled woman trying to find out what she wants. I think it was a crime she wasn’t nominated for an academy award. I mean, she would have faced tough competition from Charlize Theron but a nomination was well deserved. She did win the BAFTA though (as did Murray) so clearly we Brits have better taste. Another great performance, which is often overlooked, was given by Anna Faris who plays an alarmingly shallow anorexic actress. She definitely provided the perfect foil to Johansson’s character.

This film really does exhibit Sofia Coppola’s talent as a director and screenwriter…not as an actress though. Anyone who has seen The Godfather Part III will understand. What I was surprised to find though was that the film works wonderfully as a stoner movie. The beauty, the humor, the emotion of it all just resonates with you if you’re stoned. The film has left an impression on me and I’d go as far as saying it’s the best film of the past decade. Others might disagree but it’s hard to ignore the wonder of this treasure.

High-lights:

  • The opening scene. Johansson’s fantastic ass (and I ain’t even that way inclined) and the wonderful urban sprawl of Tokyo. The audience is instantly lost, putting us in the position of the characters.
  • All the performances were brilliant. I don’t think there was a single bad actor/actress in the whole movie.
  • The hidden pot joke (hint: it’s the alarm clock which reads 4:20). I get what you’re saying Sofia *takes another hit of the bong*
  • The soundtrack which meshes perfectly with what we see on screen. The use of ‘Alone in Kyoto’ whilst Johansson was in Kyoto was inspired. That train journey was beautiful. I want to go there.
  • “HEY! LIP MY STOCKING…oh herp me mista Bob Hallis herp me prease!” Comedic genius. Probably my favorite comedy scene in a movie ever.
  • The ending. The ending was perfect. The hug and whisper and the look of both sadness and happiness in her eyes. Brilliant. It’s an ending that makes you feel all the feels.

Downers:

  • At times the dialogue fades into ‘spoiled teenager’ territory but I think it only happened once or twice and it’s easy to ignore.

Summary:

Perfection. I can’t really say any more than that. Watch it on your own when you need a pick me up and get lost in the sweeping emotional beauty of it all.

10/10

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9 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome

9 responses to “Lost in Translation (2003)

  1. Great movie. 🙂 And another great review! My reviews suck. Lol!

  2. Awesome review and terrific film. Cool site by the way, I am now following. I just started my own film blog and would love it if you could check it out. Hopefully you’ll like that you see.

  3. You just described everything so perfect and clear! Great review, I’m not a good writer though I just started my blog to improve my skills. But you definitely have put a smile on my face with sharing same feelings about this movie!

    • Thank you that’s such a lovely thing to say. I thought your writing was excellent. I’m sure that writing the blog will improve your skills with time and build your confidence. You’ve earned yourself a follower!

  4. great review! hopefully mine can be good. this is one great movie! ever wondered what they whispered at the end?

  5. Pingback: The Bling Ring (2013) | bakedmoviereviews

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