Running Time: 102 mins
Rated: MA 15+
Bob Harris (Murray) and Charlotte (Farris) are two Americans in Tokyo. Bob is a movie star in town to shoot a whiskey commercial while Charlotte is a young woman tagging along with her workaholic photographer husband, John (Ribisi). Unable to sleep Bob and Charlotte cross paths one night in the bar of their luxury hotel. The chance meeting between people who have thirty years between them soon becomes a surprising friendship.
Charlotte and Bob venture through Tokyo, having often incredible encounters with its citizens, and ultimately discover what and who they really want. Shot in flat blue/gray tones, Lost in Translation makes Tokyo look as bleak as it can be. The location is a perfect backdrop for the isolation the characters feel. Bob is falling out of love with his controlling wife. Charlotte wonders why she recently married her inattentive husband. Both console each other in their depression, but not via the usual sexual clich's to which many other films might have resorted.
Writer and director Sofia Coppola is genuinely interested in exploring how two strangers can become firm friends within days. Not that these friends are not tempted to have an affair. Indeed the entire film is about their
temptations, but it so refreshing and adult (in the best sense of that word) to find a film that has the main characters make other choices than going straight to bed.
Coppola is the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola and came to prominence with her dark and offensive Virgin Suicides. She seems attracted to bleak stories. At least in Lost in Translation there is a more hopeful ending.
In this slow and deliberate film, however, she demonstrates her eye for exquisite details in almost every shot that deepen the meaning being conveyed.
There are, however, a few scenes that don't make a lot of sense in the sequence in which they come. It looks a savage edit has been enforced on the film and that we have lost some vital ingredients in the process.
The title, Lost in Translation, is also pregnant with meaning as the characters deal with being translated into a world in which they can discover what they've lost, and how to get it back.
Lost in Translation is not easy going, but searching for one's soul never is.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian catholic Film Office.