Lost in Translation [HD DVD]
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Longtime filmgoers may remember Richard Linklater's 1995 "Before Sunrise", which starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as an American man and a French girl who meet and develop a romantic relationship over the space of a few hours while he's backpacking through Europe. It's a film that I quite liked. But "Lost in Translation" is not only a similar movie. It's a better and more complex one. "Before Dawn" was sometimes a little too in love with its own wordiness.
Sofia Coppola's script for "Lost in Translation" is fairly minimalist, leaving plenty of room for Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson to develop their relationship through a look, a gesture, a moment of silence. And then there are the added complications. Murray's character Bob Harris is facing a mid-life crisis. Johanssen's Charlotte is in her early to mid-twenties. Both are married.
Bob is a slightly over the hill actor who - he tells Charlotte - could be at home doing a play but is in Tokyo to do an ad for whisky for 2 million dollars. Charlotte is the wife of a fashion photographer, played by Giovanni Ribisi who's in town to do a shoot. Charlotte's been married two years, and is beginning to think she doesn't really know who her husband is. Bob has been married for 25 years and it's a marriage that seems to exist for the sake of the children. During their cross world phone calls neither he nor his wife seem to be very open with one another emotionally.
Both characters are jet-lagged and suffering from insomnia.Read more ›
I've seen comparisons with Wong Kar-wai, and I think that they have some merit. Wong is above all a romantic. So is Sofia Coppola. Wong is a director who focuses on the spirit of place. So does Sofia Coppola. Of course they are different in other ways. Coppola is less self-consciously "cool" than Wong for one thing. Anyhow, it's a mistake to expect director A to be a dead ringer for director B, and as regards relative merit, Oscars aside it's not a horse race. (I do think her screenplay award was well deserved though).
What I like most about "Lost in Translation" is the love in it. Not only the love between the characters, but the love the writer/director has for her characters, and - yes - for Tokyo. Like all film makers she chooses what to show us to point up the mood of her characters. And she shows us the dissonances between them and the city. I fail to see why some people find the film negative about Japanese. Mostly these are good hearted people having a good time. They are just of a different culture. And yes, some Japanese do enjoy singing Sex Pistols songs in karaoke bars. (Here in HK we might prefer Celine Dion).
Personally I don't have much use for the concept of the masterpiece, whether in movies, books, or music. Unless you're talking Shakespeare or Bach or Tolstoy, it's all a bit fan-boy and practically never applies to Hollywood. But there are excellent, good, bad and indifferent films.Read more ›
One thing they both have in common is that they really reward repeated viewing. There's so much subtext in "Mystic River" that you catch a second time. And the same goes for this one.
It seems everybody has said everything about "Lost in Translation" with this many votes, so I don't know what more can be said. You've got to try it for yourself. What some people love - the fact that everything isn't put into words - other people hate. For those who think that no matter how depressed and tired you are you should just go out and play pachinko or play tourist, this movie will never work. It's clear to Charlotte her marriage is not going to work. It doesn't seem clear to everyone who sees the movie though. It was to me.
A modern dancer - the serious kind - said to me recently, "Audiences just keep wanting things to get faster and faster. They have no patience with waiting." It seems sadly true. I was happy to wait. Not a lot happens in Zen gardens either for some. Everything does for others.
I can hardly fault this movie, although the DVD is a bit disappointing. We deserved more extras.
Bill and Scarlett are great. Sofia Coppola - magnificent job. It's interesting that to those attuned to this movie, it's not vague at all. Nor is it boring. It's funny to see a one star review saying of Charlotte "If you're bored, you're boring", when the MAIN thing most one star reviews here say is "I was bored"
When are we going to see a Japanese one set in New York? That would be equally strange. Oh, and to the guy who expected Bruce Lee to turn up in this "cliched view of Japan", it would have been funny if he did seeing he's Chinese.
Most recent customer reviews
Turned out to be a Region 2 coded Italian language version with no subtitles.Published 11 months ago by Ray Eglitis
Just amazing, images, situations, dialogues. Very good actors performance and Tokyo looks like a crazy city fool of nice ppl.Published on May 16 2013 by axia13
I find it extremely interesting how people can feel so divided on this film. This is my favourite movie of all time. Every time I watch this movie, I love it more. Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2012 by MandieF
My review might be a little biased as I love this movie and could watch it day after day so I can sit and endure some grainy scenes without realizing it. Read morePublished on April 12 2011 by Christian
I'm a lover of foreign and art house films and I generally dislike American films equally as vociferously. Read morePublished on Dec 1 2010 by Anthony Gualtieri
The first time I saw this movie I actually hated it. My roommate owns it so I watched it again when I was home sick a little while ago. Read morePublished on June 5 2007 by Jennie