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

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Lost in Translation (2003) ---- Billy Murray gets lost in a beautiful, but empty story

Jan 9, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Bill Murray, some of the beautiful Japanese scenery

Cons:where was the character development?, infidelity=Oscar?..apparently, writing seemed unfinished

The Bottom Line: Slow and methodical, underdeveloped and seemingly unfinished, the movie wasn't rewarding as a character study or as a dramatic film.


Lost In Translation is the story of two people unhappy with in their lives, who cross paths in Tokyo, Japan. Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, a famous movie star (what a stretch) who in the twighlight of his career, has turned to Japanese commercials as an effort to prolong his acting trade. He seems bored out of his mind on the sets, and his daily routine doesn't extend past his morning preparations, and his time on the set listening to a language he doesn't understand. His counterpart in this story is Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, staying in a hotel room while her significant other is out doing his work as a photographer on location. This leaves her with boring days in a foreign country, taking in the sights as the hours tick on by. This has left both of them with plenty of free time, and nothing but the thoughts in their own minds to keep them company at night.

Maybe it's the thought that their lives are now planned out, and the excitement may be gone, but what ever the reason is, the two leads strike up a friendship after a chance meeting. Suddenly they seem to be breaking out of their respective shells again, and exciting moments on the town start to become the norm as they grow closer. What they were missing while being cooped up in their hotel rooms is soon found on the late-night Tokyo streets. This is where the movie earns extra points, by showing Tokyo like it is, and not glamming it up for the movie screen. In that same realm of design, the film is kept subdued in order to let the actors take center stage within the story. This could be where one of my larger problems with the film started to make itself know to me, as the control of the story was given to the leads, but the material wasn't exactly written for them to succeed.

Director Sofia Coppola (who also wrote the screenplay) does a perfect job with the setting of the story, and I found the film to be quite beautiful in presentation. One scene I liked in particular was when Charlotte is taking one of the bullet trains to another part of the island, and we get to see the landscape shoot by, coupled with her reflection in the window. Likewise there is another nice shot of her in a Japanese garden as a traditional wedding is taking place nearby. These were some of the high-points in the movie, but in my opinion, lacked something in the final editing that could have helped with the fluidity of the story. While the relationship between Bob and Charlotte has been growing, some of the impact is lost due to the lack of real emotion given to the story. Instead of dialogue, expressions, or even plot defining moments, the story turns into an elongated form of interpretation.

Colorful in setting, and beautiful if you were to watch it on mute, there were some severe sticking points keeping me from fully enjoying the film. The first is that there was absolutely no originality in the two main characters, and the way they were created didn't provide enough information to really base a positive opinion on them. You are instructed to believe that it is all right for a sad moment in a relationship to lead to infidelity, and it is thrust at you in an unforgiving nature. This not only didn't appeal to me, but lowered my opinion of the main characters. With barely anything to latch on to in regards to their development other than this, I fail to understand why I would want them to be happy at the end of the film. Couple the terrible character development with the lack of any real plot here, and you end up with a dull progression that isn't going to reward you at its conclusion. Sure it was nice to look at, and some of the uses of silence worked well; but with a failure to tighten up the story, and the lack of development in the writing, Lost in Translation didn't leave me with a positive opinion. In short, I wasn't pleased with the film, and don't recommend it.






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