I love Bill Murray's work. I love it so much, I'm willing to watch the stupid movie Kingpin repeatedly. So it was nearly a sure bet that I was going to like Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola's third directorial effort following the critically acclaimed The Virgin Suicides.
Bill Murray is Bob Harris, a film actor who has long ago passed his peak. Though his fame endures, the phone really isn't ringing all that often, if you know what I mean. Married with children, he takes a lucrative weeklong job making commercials for a japanese whiskey to pay the bills.
It is there in Tokyo he encounters Scarlett Johansson's Charlotte. She's a young newlywed who has accompanied her photographer husband to Tokyo for no other reason than there is nothing else for her to do. While her husband rushes around at work and displays an unfamiliar superficial side, Scarlett wonders where she's going.
The emotional heart of the story lies in Bob and Charlotte's stumbling through their week. In their slow-motion flailing, they grab on to each other.
Ms. Coppola said that she basically stalked Murray to be in this film. You can tell that she had him in mind, since Bob's character makes full use of the cynical side of Murray's personality. Behind that cynicism is the creative personality, trapped by age and circumstance. Charlotte has doubts about the life she has just embarked upon, and Bob confirms some of her worst fears.
The humor of the film is nearly all Murray. Tokyo provides a number of opportunities for Engrish, but a special nod has to go to Anna Farris (of the Scary Movie series) as Claire, a vacuous actress and acquaintance of Charlotte's husband.
The intriguing thing about Bob is that he's only apparently dead from a distance. Close up he's constantly throwing off small sparks. When they fall on tinder, they explode into a karaoke rendition of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." There is plenty of life there, and hope for Charlotte to exist as herself lost within the foreign world of her marriage.Posted by James at October 21, 2003 10:24 AM