Lost in Translation

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

  • Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

    Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

Written by Laura Shaw

Last Sunday night I was lucky enough to view the film Lost in Translation at War Memorial Hall. From the opening shot until the credits rolled down the screen, I found myself transfixed by one of the most breathtakingly beautful films I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.

Lost in Translation was written and directed by Sophia Coppola. I've always been a huge fan of Bill Murray. From his hilarious moments in Caddyshack, What About Bob? and Groundhog Day to his more demanding roles in films like Rushmore and The Royal Tenembaums, he has never ceased to amaze me as a remarkably versatile actor.

In Lost in Translation, Bill plays a washed up movie star who travels to Japan for a multi-million dollar whiskey advertising contract. In Japan, Bill's character, Bob, runs into Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johannsen (you may remember her as Thora Birch's companion in Ghost World) who is in the same emotional state as Bob, both of them being at opposite points of a failed or about-to-fail marriage. The two end up relating to one another in a film that is as spectacular to watch and enjoy purely for its beauty as it is to analyze and think about.

Since the film took place in Japan, there were many gorgeous scenic shots of the city and countryside. The shots were used to convey the characters' feelings of isolation in a foreign land, set the context and also purely for visual pleasure, but they did not enter the realm of the annoying "am I watching a slideshow from my aunt's vacation?" feeling that so many other films accidentally slide into when trying to show shots of scenery. The music was also perfect for the film, I could not have chosen a better song for any of the scenes. A perfect soundtrack adds so much feeling to a film, and this soundtrack could not have been any better.

Murray's acting in the film is so natural, I couldn't tell whether or not he was even acting. I suspect he wasn't. The beautiful Scarlett suited the role of Charlotte perfectly as well, her casual mannerisms and sad eyes showed the real despair of a young woman in a tough situation. My favourite element of the film was how honestly the characters acted with one another; the lines were slow, deliberate, uneasy, and the entire film had an air of intense reality about it because it wasn't just plot moving plot forward. It was breathtaking watching two actors slide into their roles so well, it almost seemed like we were getting a glimpse of more than just a session of acting, but a snapshot into real life.

I'm not at all surprised that Lost in Translation is up for four Academy Awards, and has already won three Golden Globes. I highly recommend renting/buying this film as soon as possible, it is out on video and DVD now.

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