Lost in Translation – Sofia Coppola, 2003
Lost in Translation is one of those movies which have a whole personal story behind. Quite concise, anyway. I remember that I was really young when this movies first came out, and since that time I always told myself I would watch it, sooner or later. Plus, its director is Sofia Coppola and, shame on me, I am not really acquainted with her movies but despite this, I know she is widely known all over the globe (For example The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoniette are two of her most claimed films; guess what? I have not watched them, yet). Nonetheless, I did watch a Coppola movie, The Bling Ring, that quite struck me, but not as deeply as Lost in Translation did. To end the Sofia Coppola issue with a bang, I want to pinpoint how awesomely Italian her name is and, being genuinely Italian myself, how could I not be at least curious about her works?
Winding the real matter up, I want to explain why I admire this last movie I watched. I did not know the plot and I obviously did not remember the trailer, so I just let the movie talk on its own; and it actually did, quite well too. This is not a typical love story, a romantic movie for soppy people. What we are talking about is a story in which two people find themselves by chance while wandering in the darkness. That may sound trite, but what do we humans need when feeling extremely down and lost? A person to talk to, maybe would be of help; and movies as any other art speak the mere truth of our lives. The two protagonists I am talking about are Bill Murray, who plays Bob Murray, a famous actor who is in Tokyo to film an advertisement for a Japanese Liqueur, and Scarlett Johansson, aka Charlotte, a young blonde pretty girl graduated in philosophy who is in Tokyo because of her husband’s job. Both of them are ‘lost in translation’, meaning they are unable to understand what their lives became. Job’s is hard for Bob, stressful and not as rewarding as it used to be, it is non existent for Charlotte, who is bored of pretty much everything. Romance is also a jolly card in their life. They are trying to decypher whether their lovers satisfy their needs and, unable to find answers, find themselves being helpful to each other.
I urge to say Bill Murray interpretation of his character is flawless. I was truly more than impressed, I was spell bound. His character is bored by notoriety, he can’t find the reason why he is alive; his engine is rugged and persevered, but it still has some fuel to make us laugh. He enchants us with comic notes intertwined with bitterness. He is the essence of the movie itself; without him, I don’t know how successful it would have been. His friend (lover?) is Scarlett Johansson and she did a good job as well; she makes her character credible and very, very reliable. I am not a big fan of hers, but I must admit that after her performance in Ghost World, a brilliant 2001 movie directed by Terry Zwigoff she absolutely captured my attention and this movie just strenghtened my idea.
Moreover, I must say the setting plays an important role in the dynamic of the movie. Tokyo is a vibrant coloured city and that makes of it a foil for Sofia Coppola’s creative attitudes towards colours and photography. I observed she uses long shots with music on the background and she likes to create particular atmospheres that help conveying that feeling that she has in mind (check the opening and final scenes out). Tokyo is also a city in which absurdities of all kind seem to occur throughout the move that kind pushes the protagonists to experience new things in life, therefore to hinder their routines and certainties.
To end this post, I would say Sofia Coppola is a sweet revelation to me and I am pretty sure I’ll be talking about her round here any time soon. Then, I was reading around the net that everyone is wondering what the hell Bob tells Charlotte in her ear in the very last scene. We cannot hear exactly what he whispers and this seems to trouble people. Really? Try to ponder a bit more on that? I think the director just wanted to let us with imagination, find the ‘translation’ of their relationship on our own. Whatever your interpretation is, I hope you liked the movie as much as I did.