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Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)

Lost in Translation


I adored Sofia Coppola’s first movie, The Virgin Suicides, so even without the insane amount of hype, I would still have been in a hurry to see Lost in Translation. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Coppola has an eye for detail and an appreciation for small things that are practically unheard of in today’s day of big-budget explosions and Vin Diesel action vehicles. (Sorry, Mr. Diesel.) Bill Murray does more with his eyes in this film than he’s ever done with his entire range of ability before. And Scarlett Johansson is more than capable of keeping up with him. The phrase “old soul” was invented for the look in her eyes in this film.

Murray’s aging movie star and Johansson’s young Yale graduate aren’t stuck in bad marriages. They’re not miserable and abused. But neither one can sleep in Tokyo, so they end up crossing paths, and forge a bond that is, for the moment, stronger than any others they have. What makes the movie so good is its ability to realize that they don’t have to run off together, or have elaborately filmed sex, for their love story to be heartbreaking and yet happy. Murray’s hand patting Johansson’s feet while they lie on a bed talking about marriage, and the expressions on their faces while they sing perfectly-chosen karaoke songs are worth a dozen flowery speeches and a hundred stage kisses.

A lovely soft blue-pink palette is the constant color scheme around Murray and Johansson, setting them apart from the jarring colors and electric lights of Tokyo. The atmosphere is perfect, showing at once how ridiculous it is that they should be falling in love here, and yet how much it makes sense. Coppola never lets the movie get weighed down in guilt issues or other useless drama, and she allows plenty of laughs at Murray’s attempts to navigate around Tokyo, and especially at the celebrity treatment he gets.

The movie’s tagline is “Everybody wants to be found,” and I think that says a lot about it. In a brightly-colored, high-speed city, these two people find each other and forget age differences, distracted husband and wife, and connect. They make you forget, too, that there’s no way they could be together. They are, for the moment, and the moment is what matters.


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