Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation ★★★★★

Film #1 of the Letterboxd Season Challege 2015-16
Roger Ebert Week


Given the relatively scarce number of 21st century films featured on Roger Ebert's Great Movies list, I expected Lost in Translation to be, at the very least, really good. However, having just finished watching it, I can safely say that not only did it meet the lofty expectations I had for it, it managed to leave me absolutely spellbound. I loved this movie.

The beauty in this film emerges from it's simplicity - here we have two characters at very different stages in their life, brought together by circumstance in a strange new place, and the entire movie is dedicated to following their relationship as they find something relatable in each other. No frills or drastic plot changes, just a character evaluation of two people. If not done properly it could have become slow, dull or actively barf-inducing, but from start to finish it doesn't miss a beat. This is the first film of Sophia Coppola's I have had the chance to watch and I was blown away by how well this movie was handled.

The relationship we see blossom on screen feels incredibly organic, and as we learn more about each character the connection only becomes more engrossing. Bob, an ageing actor going through something of a mid-life crisis, is played absolutely perfectly by Bill Murray, who displays here a masterful control of his craft. It feels like the role he was born to play, and in every moment he is shown on screen, we are offered a glance into his soul not only by what he says, but also what he doesn't. He plays the tortured middle-aged rich guy so well, and there are also few things funnier than seeing Bill Murray juxtapose his incredibly dry humour alongside the sheer eccentictry of Japanese culture.

Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of Charlotte is impressive too, and the chemistry the pair share makes for their relationship to be so captivating - without it, this film just wouldn't work. The film's success is also a huge credit to Coppola as her superbly written screenplay never feels cheesy or cliched, whilst her assured direction helps tells the story as much as the dialogue does and also manages to capture the sheer beauty of the setting that engulfs our protagonists. The cinematography is also fantastic, with Tokyo's bright lights and tranquil mornings helping to assist with some fantastic shots, whilst the sharp editing style means the plot moves along with enough speed to maintain our attention. All in all, Lost in Translation is a triumph of film-making and shows how a simple story can be enhanced to great levels if everything is done right.

Both main protagonists are tormented by issues that are relatable to almost everyone, be it dissatisfaction with how your life has turned out or worries about how it will, and as a beautifully acted, shot and paced move, Lost in Translation resonated with me hugely. It is an utterly gorgeous film that I cannot wait to see again and I imagine it will only get better with each subsequent watch.

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