Lost in Translation (DVD, 2004, Widescreen) Reviews
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Lost in Translation (DVD, 2004, Widescreen)

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And I Know The Silence Of The World.

Feb 8, 2004
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great performances by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

Cons:The fact that it's not a plot-driven film may put off some people.

The Bottom Line: Not as good as American Beauty, yet better than the English Patient.


Just when it seemed like Bill Murray had literally vanished off the face of the earth, he came back and won a Golden Globe. And not only that, he's also in line for a possible Academy Award.

By now, most people are probably wondering if they read the previous paragraph correctly. The answer is: yes they have. For Lost In Translation not only returns the largely MIA Murray to greatness status, it also proves that he can handle serious dramatic acting. Rushmore suggested that possibility. Lost In Translation confirms it.

Murray, the man who helped make Saturday Night Live in its first season, has been on the outs with Hollywood for a while. After leaving SNL, he proved his comedic mettle with Caddyshack and Ghostbusters before the comedic material dried up and Murray did a series of lesser roles (Kingpin, She's Having A Baby and the sequels to the two aforementioned comedy classics) with only one real indication of his talent in the superb Groundhog Day. He also made a few attempts at serious dramatic acting with Scrooged and Wild Things and the results were also less than stellar. Rushmore however, proved that he could act without tossing off a wisecrack every five minutes and so that set the stage for his comeback role in Lost In Translation.

Does the fact that this is a new type of role for Murray means that there's no humor at all to be found here? Of course not! Watch the scene where Murray, playing a past his prime actor, attempts to give a one-note performance in a Japanese whiskey commercial, The scene proves that Murray can handle the understatement as well as the manic, over-the-top performances he ran into the ground over the past few years.

Murray plays Bob Harris, a washed up, has-been actor who's going through a sort of midlife crisis. As the film begins, we see him arriving in Japan to appear in a commercial for some brand of whiskey. Also arriving is Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) who is there with her photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi). Charlotte loves John, yet he seems to pay little attention to her. In fact, the film none too subtly suggests that he may be cheating on her with American actress Anna.

Bob too is married, none too happily. Not long into the film he comments on how he's missing his son's birthday yet again. Bob is going through a midlife crisis, while Charlotte (a recent college graduate with a degree in philosophy) is unsure of who she is or what she wants to be. These two are kindred spirits and in a way are far better suited for each other than their respective spouses are. So it isn't surprising that these two should meet up and spend a great deal of time together. What is surprising is the lengths to which it goes. Most people will expect something illicit to start happening. Much to its credit it doesn't.

Sofia Coppola made her directing debut with the 2000 adaptation of the Jeffrey Eugenides novel The Virgin Suicides. That film dealt with suburban decay in a similar way to American Beauty and so its appropriate that Lost In Translation touches on many of the same topics. Many people have compared Bob Harris to Kevin Spacey's character in Beauty and in a sense; both Harris and Lester Burnham do share many of the same feelings, although Harris's aren't to the same extreme. Both films tackle the issue of finding one's place in the cog of life and how that relates to various fears: fear of aging, the meaning of the past, the uncertainty of the future.

I've seen some reviews of this film that have criticized it for not having much of a plot. Those reviews miss the point. Lost In Translation is not a plot-driven movie. The most accurate description would be to say that it is a series of different vignettes involving the characters.

Murray gives easily one of the best performances of his career. Here he shows off just the right level of restraint, yet still injects his performance with just the right amount of dry humor. Johansson is a joy to watch: this beautiful actress has the makings of a fine thespian and she definitely proves it here.

Lost In Translation easily earns itself a spot on the best movies of 2003 list. While I personally do not rate it quite as high as Mystic River, it is still a great film that is deserving of any praise and awards that may come its way.


Recommend this product? Yes

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