Two worlds collide
January 16, 2004
As the daughter of celebrated film director Francis Ford Coppola and cousin of Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage, Sofia Coppola has the credentials of an accomplished director.
Proving that the excellent The Virgin Suicides was no one-off, Sofia Coppola brings her independent voice to Lost In Translation – a fascinating study of a unique friendship that develops as two people battling their own personal crises are thrown together.
Bob Harris (Bill Murray), an ageing film star with an unsatisfying marriage, is in Tokyo to shoot a whisky advertisement. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a dissatisfied 20-something philosophy graduate, is in Tokyo to accompany her photographer husband on an assignment.
Insomnia and solitude conspire to draw these two spiritually-connected people together and a platonic relationship is sparked that sees them spend an increasing amount of time together, having fun, strengthening their bond and ultimately achieving enlightenment.
Lost in Translation depicts a love affair that never becomes romantic. Despite (or perhaps because of) a lack of sexual contact between the two unlikely friends, a deep connection is established and scenes of closeness teeter between the sexual and the platonic and are quite simply electric.
Bill Murray proves there is more to him than brash comedy, with a subtle, touching and accomplished performance that speaks volumes about his character.
Scarlett Johannson, meanwhile, is absorbing and mesmerising. Sofia Coppola clearly revels in her unconventional beauty, allowing the camera to linger on the womanly curves of this young actress’s ‘real’ figure. Perhaps the start of a backlash against the cosmetically-enhanced, surgically sculpted and digitally-altered bodies we have grown used to seeing on screen, Coppola recognises that real beauty is found in imperfections and idiosyncrasies.
Coppola illustrates her characters’ feelings well, using film as a tool. As Charlotte realises her increasing frustration within her marriage, we see her wander the hotel aimlessly, never venturing outside, in a physical depiction of her state of mind as she searches for answers.
This unconventional love story combines with a non-Hollywood ending to create a film with old-fashioned appeal where characters and complex relationships are key. Lost In Translation is a real must-see.