Lost in Translation * * * * ½
Directed by: Sofia Coppola / 2003
The blinking lights motion backdrop of Tokyo, Japan serves as a confusing cure for the sweet and sad soul searching of two Americans with a wide generation gap, yet close-knit kinship. Sometimes you’ve got to get lost to find yourself. I realize saying that is a bit cheesy, but I believe it’s a necessary formula for certain places in life and definitely used for this remarkable film. Charming to the core, Bill Murray’s Oscar nominated “Bob Harris” is at the ho-hum crossroads of life with his career and marriage while shooting tiring, easy money whiskey commercials far away from home. He finds hotel bar solace and out on the town companionship and adventure in befriending Scarlett Johansson’s (still in baby fat and her best role) “Charlotte”. She is a young, fresh college graduate who is experiencing Tokyo while her husband is on busy photography assignments. The two form an unlikely bond, reaching out to one another to help mend mental blues and boredom in a different place that is just right per the moment even though everything feels out of touch. Bob wants to rediscover his youth and reexamine his life while Charlotte wants to figure out who she is and what life is about. Writer-Director Sofia Coppola has developed a great film palette in “Lost in Translation” and was rightfully rewarded with an Oscar for Original Screenplay. The film’s direction and tones are for me a similar feeling to staring out of a smudged and rainy window as the fast world blinks and blurs lights that reflect warning and wrangle within. Some film viewers might get lost in the pacing and come out with the sense that nothing happens and that there is doubtful change in the screen lives invested in. The parting, undecipherable whispers between the two characters might confuse just the same and leave people with an ambiguous ending that keeps them guessing, something that I personally enjoy. I find the film to be completely compelling, warm, absorbing and identifiable with mental melancholy, isolation and finding content in confusion and the outstretched flickering arms of hope and change that can be located, but not quite focused.