Lost In Translation Review

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I just feel so alone, even when I’m surrounded by other people – Charlotte

Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation is about Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a yesteryear actor who is in Tokyo to endorse a whiskey brand. Here he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a newly-wed who has arrived with her celebrity-photographer husband. A fortunate encounter at a bar brings together Bob and Charlotte and they end up discussing everything from love to commitment and loneliness, and form a bond which is as strong as it gets within the space of a few days.

I will run out of words if I begin to describe Murray’s performance in this movie, and I mean that in a good way. I didn’t see Murray in this movie, I saw Bob. Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Murray fascinate me every time they are on the screen. It is that they bring so much to the table even while doing so little. Murray’s performance is controlled, to say the least. He just subdues his unlimited ardour and gives us a performance that we won’t ever forget.

And to his competition is Scarlett Johansson. It is unbelievable that she was just 18 when she did Lost In Translation. She had undoubtedly the worst debut imaginable with 1994’s North. But she has given such a great performance in the movie that her critics rapidly transformed into her admirers. Murray is in the limelight and there he shines, but this movie would have been a dull affair if it wasn’t for the energy unleashed by Scarlett’s character.

Sofia Coppola has created very well-sketched characters here. She knows her way around their mannerisms, thoughts, ideologies from A to Z. The work she has done in Lost In Translation definitely overshadows her father’s work because Francis Coppola’s characters could never have had such depth within themselves.

When the first shot is of Scarlett Johansson in a see-through panties, you know this movie is going somewhere ! The next shot is of Bill Murray arriving into Tokyo. As the scene progresses, there is a bedazzling shot of night-time Tokyo. The reaction that was on my face was similar to that of the one on Murray’s face. He was amazed by Tokyo and I was amazed by the fact that Lance Acord could see such beauty and then capture the amazement aroused from that beauty so efficiently. But, the thing was that I and Bob had connected from the first scene itself.

Both of Sofia’s characters have no reason to be lonely, they have faithful life-partners, they are both financially very-well and should be dancing around happily with a smirk always on their faces. But, it is at this juncture that reality kicks in. They both want something more. They want someone who wants or just pretends to listen to their thoughtful ramblings. They want to know that someone cares. It is a battle for existence rather than love.

And both Bob and Charlotte find it in each other. The first time we see Bob and Charlotte, every one of us has the desire that these individuals should be together. But here’s the catch, they share their depravity with each other and satisfy each other’s psychological needs.

The first shot of Charlotte and Bob together is in a lift where they are surrounded by Japanese people. That is the most true depiction of the mindset of both these characters. They are trapped in cell with people who they can’t even communicate with. They are lost in translation.

Bob is the wise guy in the movie. There is a scene in which a Japanese lady comes in Bob’s room and says ,”I have been sent here for a massage. Do you like massages, Bob-san ?” to which Murray replies, “I don’t think I like them anymore”. That is the state Bob has thrusted himself into. A self-confinement where he is depraved of all pleasures and is given enough solace to ponder over the wisdom which has been accumulated within the span of years. But, Charlotte helps to unleash that child within him and brings him back to life as we know it.

When they talk for the first time, the first thing that Charlotte asks is ,”What are you doing here?” to which Murray replies that he is taking a break from his wife. They are brutally frank because there are somethings within a person that they just want to get out and the reason why both of them were in Japan was one of them.

The score is superb. It goes on well with the flowy sequences of the movie. The ending has been debated upon a lot. What were those last words whispered into Charlotte’s ears by Bob ? There is a part of me that wants to know them, but my inner side says, the fun is in not knowing. I am not even sure about the scene itself. Did that really happen or was it just a surrealistic experience ? I don’t know and quite honestly, I don’t want to.

Lost In Translation is a beautifully sketched character study, which touches upon various grim realistic themes yet never stops being witty and acts as the perfect creative space for Coppola, Murray, Scarlett and Lance Acord as well and is undoubtedly, a must watch.

Rating : 9.2 / 10

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