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Lost in Translation (2003)

  Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Written by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Anna Faris, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Giovanni Ribisi
Links: Lost in Translation on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 9.00 (3 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 14th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Lost in Translation (2003) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of 21 Grams (2003), pearly's review of Garden State (2004), em_fiction's review of Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), em_fiction's review of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), em_fiction's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and em_fiction's review of The Virgin Suicides (1999).

"Happiness needs no translation" - a review by francois

There are people who chase a particular feeling. For a high, you might call them a junkie, for a low, you might call them depressive. What happens when you combine the two feelings together at the same time? What do you call that feeling? Frankly, it can't be labelled, and if it could, it would be Lost In Translation.

I went to this film having read reviews of a great story, one that involves the viewer. What I didn't expect was to be moved in such a way.

The film is great. The actors are fantastic, the dialogue is realistic and the journey is often very humourous. It is the ending that is spot on. If you haven't seen the film, don't read on, or do, and be warned.

The journey the characters take you on is perfect. They meet, share similar qualities and enjoy each other's company. It sounds like a regular love story, but it is so much more. The film is what it is so it can build up to one point, the ending, and give the viewer an accurate portrayal of the moment when happiness and sadness collide.

Have you ever stood at an airport and said goodbye to a loved one, knowing that you'll probably see them again? Stood amongst thousands of strangers and hugged, because the rest of the world seems irrelevant? Whispered into their ear the most important thing you could ever say. Watched as the doors at the airport close or the crowds block your view. Felt the rip in your heart and then realised they are gone? What happens next is magic. You know you should be upset, but as you turn, all the time you spent with this person rushes through your memory, and you're forced to smile. And all of a sudden, as you smile, you understand why.

For a film to capture this moment is hard. It is something you have to experience. Lost In Translation got it in one.

I know this may sound like sentimental bollocks. Perhaps others enjoyed it for Bill Murray's classic humour. Perhaps I missed the point and it was actually a social commentary on the lack of foreign language education at schools, and the future problems this will cause. Whatever others took from it, at least I was reminded of that special moment. It sounds arrogant I know, but when a film that is made for mass consumption can make it feel like it was made just for you, it's doing something right.

francois gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 22 Jan 2004

"Reflective" - a review by pearly

Sit down. Relax. Open your eyes wide, and be ready to take it all in. Because a Sofia Coppola film is as much about presenting a visual feast as it is about anything else.

Lost in Translation is set among the blend of bright lights and muted traditional atmosphere of Tokyo. Arriving there to film a television commercial for whiskey is Bob (Bill Murray), who is about to enter a mid-life crisis. Also staying at his hotel is Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a much younger woman who has accompanied her photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi) to the city and hasn't got much to do during the long days when he is working.

Both feel alone in the big and unfamiliar town, and each noticing the other's demeanour, they strike up an unusual friendship.

There's not particularly much going on in Lost in Translation. The days that Bob and Charlotte spend just wash over you like some sort of dream, with occasional breaks to the surface for scenes (mostly involving Bob) that are quite humourous (Bob politely fending off a prostitute that has been organised by his employer for him, Bob appearing on a Japanese television program that is quite over-the-top, Bob filming the television commercial while the Japanese director instructs him).

For anyone who has ever felt lost in the direction that their life is taking, Lost in Translation is likely to ring true, but it is only a film for people who enjoy falling into the story and lingering with its inhabitants. In other words, you probably won't like it if you don't like films with a slow pace. In this, it reminds me (even aside from the obvious connection with the country) of Japanese Story (2003), as there are lengthy spans where not much is going on in terms of movement.

Johansson is radiant as Charlotte - the complete opposite of Kelly (Anna Faris), who is delightfully ditzy as the acquaintance of John (Charlotte's husband), a teeny actress with more hair than brains. And those murmurs about Murray being a possibility for an Oscar nomination are certainly not as surprising to me as they were before I saw the film. It was good that he had the funny scenes to let himself go in, but aside from that, he was subdued and believable, and didn't remind me of Carl from Caddyshack (1980) once.

Yep, Coppola is definitely one to keep your eye on.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 9 Jan 2004

"Thank you for existing." - a review by em_fiction

Bob (Bill Murray) is an actor. He's in Japan to endorse a whiskey. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) followed her neglectful, workaholic husband John (Giovanni Ribisi) to Japan on a business trip. Both Bob and Charlotte are lost in a foreign country — lonely, directionless and depressed. One night, both insomniacs cross paths in a hotel bar, which sparks an odd but close friendship. Suddenly, for the both of them, Tokyo isn't so bad.

Sofia Coppola has made a very different film. Through the frustration of trying to fit into a completely different country, Sofia has drawn out connections and similarities between two people who are superficially different. The disparities in culture, environment and most of all, language, create the feeling of alienation and loneliness, but we see the discomfort melt away as the friendship between our two main characters evolves.

When Margaret said that this film has “such poignant moments you just want to hug them to yourself they're so precious” (man, I really gotta stop quoting The Movie Show), it sounded pretty corny, but I was surprised that I knew exactly what she meant after watching it. The film plays, in great detail, on those little moments in life which you never want to end. Through these little moments, Sofia builds an attachment between the two protagonists that gets harder and harder to break. Ever been on a trip or an outing where you were having the time of your life? You know these moments don't last forever, and it's difficult to imagine if anything will ever be the same. You value the moments so much that when you look back on your normal life, it just seems so depressing. To watch these moments playing on-screen has an awkward power over you — it's so incredibly moving that, well yeah, I guess you do want to hug them to yourself.

There are two things I cannot get enough of in this film. The first is the soundtrack. The film would not have been half as effective if it weren't for the absolutely amazing soundtrack. The music makes you feel like you're in a dream (check out the official site for snippets) and it conforms so well to the picture that listening to one of the songs literally brings back the moments to you as if you're watching them for the first time. The second thing is the cinematography. Lance Acord, who worked on the weird and wonderful Adaptation (2002) (directed by Coppola's soon-to-be ex-husband Spike Jonze) has a very relaxed way of controlling the camera. There are these small but precious bits in the film where city lights, illuminating the Tokyo night, are viewed from inside a moving car and it's just so unbelievably comforting to watch.

The Venice Film Festival has a tradition of allowing the viewers to write direct feedback onto walls. This year, someone had written (along these lines) this message in regards to Lost In Translation: “Thank you, Bill. Thank you for existing.” After watching this film, it's hard to not agree. Bill is so natural in his portrayal of Bob, filled with honesty and poignancy — Oscar chances are looking very promising. As for Scarlett Johansson, well, one thing's for sure: she's one of the most beautiful young women to ever walk this planet. I loved her in Ghost World (2001), but this role really defines her talent. The chemistry between her and Bill is amazing. Giovanni Ribisi, taking an active role in this film after narrating Sofia's The Virgin Suicides (1999), is utterly convincing in a small role as Charlotte's always-in-a-hurry spouse. It's also fun to see Anna Faris prove her acting potential in the minor role of Kelly — the hot, energetic, blonde movie star over in Japan to promote a film.

Scarlett Johansson, an umbrella and a stunning Tokyo backdrop — I knew that I had to see this film the first time I saw the theatrical poster. Lost In Translation is a simple, honest, gentle piece that doesn't need big sentimentality or hugely dramatic plot twists to shape its emotion yet still lives up to be one of the most astoundingly touching films ever made.

em_fiction gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 15 Dec 2003

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 3
Average rating: 9.00
Lowest rating: 8 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 10 (by em_fiction)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. i just love the movie...

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from nadine on Fri 25 Feb 2005 02:16 #

  2. great movie .. i really like all the movies with scarlett johansson... she is a great actor...

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from vincent on Fri 25 Feb 2005 02:17 #

  3. This movie is a bore at best. Had this film been written or directed by anyone other than Sofia Coppola it would have never been seen! The story follows the feeling of the characters that are feeling lost and alone in a strange land. Of course, the characters gather together to find some goodtimes and that's about it. If you enjoy watching people sit and drink and sit some more this film is for you. The constant shots of Johansson's character sitting in her underwear looking out the window are over done and uninteresting. We get it Sophia, she's sad and alone! If you are looking for a film to commit suicide at the end of this one is your film! I suffered through this thing twice looking for what everyone else has said about it. May be you have to be high to get the attraction? I don't know. I give it a big booo! One of Bill Murray's worst films but not because of the acting. I think the script was horrible from the start and had the Coppola name been on it neither Murray or Johansson would have been on board.

    Rating given: 3

    A comment from W on Sat 28 May 2005 02:17 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 7.67 (3 ratings)

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