Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lost in Translation

I have a feeling I may not be open-minded enough to see such a film : Lost in Translation, released in 2003, directed by Sophia Coppola, and generally acclaimed by the public. And it makes me sad. With so many positive opinions, I really thought I could pull it off.

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an ageing actor in Tokyo for a commercial. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is in Tokyo with her husband John (Giovanni Ribisi), who is here on business. Charlotte feels neglected, Bob feels empty – the two of them form an unlikely bond. That’s it.  

The movie is incredibly slow, and it is difficult to get attached to Bob or Charlotte, as their characters are not developed enough for the viewer to actually like them. Not much is said, we don't know what they think. On an other hand, it is easy to dislike Charlotte’s husband, or the dumb actress Kelly (Anna Faris), who are just so self-involved it is almost a caricature. And I do like these actors, all of them, so I can hardly imagine what it would have been for me if I did not even have remote sympathy / admiration for them!
Bob: Can you keep a secret? I'm trying to organize a prison break. I'm looking for, like, an accomplice. We have to first get out of this bar, then the hotel, then the city, and then the country. Are you in or you out?
Charlotte: I'm in. I'll go pack my stuff.
Bob: I hope that you've had enough to drink. It's going to take courage.

Charlotte: So, what are you doing here?
Bob: Uh, a couple of things. Taking a break from my wife, forgetting my son's birthday. And, uh, getting paid two million dollars to endorse a whiskey when I could be doing a play somewhere.
Charlotte: Oh.
Bob: But the good news is, the whiskey works.

Charlotte: You're probably just having a mid-life crisis. Did you buy a Porsche yet?

I heard so much about Japan and Tokyo being a great destination and I still want to go, but still, that movie gives en awful view of Japan, and Tokyo especially. It takes place mostly behind closed doors, in the beautiful setting of the Tokyo Park Hyatt. One funny thing was one of the first few scenes, when the guys speaks in Japanese for what seems like ages, only to have an extremely short English translation. Or the scene where Bob goes to a talk show. Two laughs in two hours, that’s it.

I am still not sure whether it is a love story or not – they are so far apart, young vs old for one thing, both married, although I have a feeling Charlotte’s wedding might not last that long (and, on a more personal note, how she could have married John in the first place. Anyway). If I were to think about it a bit further I’d say this is a real love story, a true connection between two people who are so far apart in the end it is an impossible love. And what’s with the end?! We don’t know what he is whispering to her and I’ll probably wonder for the years to come. Knowing might have improved my impression of the movie. 
So, sorry for the critics who found this to be an outstanding movie, by my disappointment about the film equals the frustration of knowing I will never be able to get those two hours back.

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