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World weary movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey commercial, staying at one of the city’s flash hotels. He spends much of his sleepless nights in the lounge bar, where he meets an equally sleepless Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) the young wife of a fashion photographer (Giovanni Ribisi), who has tagged along for the ride. The nocturnal meetings grow into a casual friendship, and as they share strange little ‘foreign’ experiences, each finding the other’s company stimulatingly complex. But as their relationship deepens, the time comes for Bob to return to his wife and family.

Review by Louise Keller:
A delightful bubble of escapism, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is a wonderfully warm and witty observation of two strangers stuck in Tokyo, who find a connection. While Coppola’s accomplished debut The Virgin Suicides depicted impressionable adolescence, Lost in Translation explores life at the crossroads for two people whose lives would not normally cross, yet they are drawn to each other through circumstance. Inspired by her visits to Tokyo in her mid twenties, Coppola was interested in the idea of the camaraderie that arises between travellers who find a commonality because in a foreign country, they are fish out of water. And her script positively resounds with acute truths about the upside-down feeling that jet-lag, loneliness, disorientation that being away from routine can bring.

The strangeness of another culture becomes a sideshow (from bathrooms designed for short people to the common mispronunciation of ‘r’s and ‘l’s: ‘rook rike Bond, rike Lodger Moore’). Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson play two strangers who find themselves sharing intimate conversations about the meaning of life, love, marriage and children in hotel rooms high above the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Murray is at his brilliant best as Bob Harris, the jaded movie star in Tokyo to pocket a huge paycheck for a whisky commercial. Escaping from his marriage, his children and his entire life, Bob is going through the motions, but is totally disinterested in everything and everybody.

It’s a spectacular performance with Murray at times hysterically funny, while at other times, introspective, thoughtful and quite tragic. Just as easily as Murray can easily make us laugh, he can also makes us cry, by the very intensity with which he inhabits Bob. One minute, he is droll, the next stripped naked emotionally. The scenes in which he is shooting his whisky commercial with a director and crew who do not speak any English, are truly hilarious: you will become lost in laughter. Scarlett Johannson is a breath of fresh air as Charlotte. Feeling neglected, lost and lonely, when her workaholic husband is more interested in a blonde starlet who happens to remember his name than his wife, Charlotte is also re-evaluating her life. Charlotte and Bob are drawn to each other and find solace in each other, and slowly but surely, we feel the sexual attraction begin. But Coppola handles this special relationship beautifully, elevating it to the stuff that precious memories are made of. There are parallels that can be drawn with Jet Lag, but this story is unique in that it concentrates on a precious pocket of time that is divorced from Bob and Charlotte’s real lives. And it is the unspoken words that matter most. A bittersweet film with a sweet aftertaste, Lost in Translation is mandatory for those who travel with their heart.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A real treat for grown up film lovers, Lost In Translation is everything a good film can be, speaking directly to our senses with actions and inner messages that make words seem superfluous. The effortless communication of what’s going on inside the characters is a sublime example of cinema doing its best. We are given the chance to take part in this experience through our own internal mechanisms, which are first opened up with the massage of laughter. The opening sequences of Bob Harris arriving in Tokyo, from the telling ennui on his face as he taxis into town, to the recognisably bizarre scenes in the studio while he tapes the tv commercial, all feed our sense of humour. But they also feed our databank with information about Bob as a person. We have put together an identikit of his soul by the time we see him catching her eye in the bar, as the lounge singer (Catherine Lambert) moans out a slo-mo version of Scarborough Fair.

In this oasis of Western culture in the middle of Tokyo, two westerners, isolated from their normal relationships and not very comfortable, strike up a friendship. He is older, worn down to a state of passivity; she is open, hungry and dissatisfied. But of you think this set up leads to the agonies of a one night stand, you’d be underestimating the screenplay. Sofia Coppola avoids making an obvious film, preferring the more complex, and more satisfying journey of two people who get to take another look at their lives and reconsider their place in it. As Coppola says about this film, “it’s about moments in life that are great but don’t last…but you always have the memory and they have an effect on you.” Just like her film.

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CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Anna Faris, Akiko Takeshita, Kazuyoshi Minamimagoe, Kazuko Shibata, Take, Ryuichiro Baba, Akira Yamaguchi, Catherine Lambert, François du Bois

PRODUCER: Sofia Coppola, Ross Katz

DIRECTOR: Sofia Coppola

SCRIPT: Sofia Coppola


EDITOR: Sarah Flack

MUSIC: Brian Reitzell, Kevin Shields

PRODUCTION DESIGN: K.K. Barrett, Anne Ross

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2003

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