The resounding sentiment of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is the journey of two completely different characters into the foreign land of Japan.
At first this may distract audiences because Coppola’s previous film, The Virgin Suicides, was dreamy but generally vague. The photography was spectacular and the ideas were good, but those ideas were so strong that it left some audiences wanting more detailed accountability.
With this in mind, Lost in Translation is a movie with Coppola’s usual promise of artistic perspective that is then justified by an accountable, naturally flowing plot.
Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is newly graduated from Yale and doesn’t know what to do with her philosophy degree. She’s stuck in a Tokyo hotel because her up-and-coming photographer husband is more committed to his job than her. In her loneliness she contemplates her marriage.
Bob (Bill Murray) is searching for himself, too. He plays an American celebrity posing for Japanese whisky ads with tongue-in-cheek humor. More than for money, he’s there to get a perspective on his relationship with his family.
Charlotte and Bob are calmly desperate, and their individual culture shock is jarring before they meet. Their friendship is as immediate and apparent as their loneliness.
They lose themselves, for the time being, in getting to know each other. This ecstatic comfort reaches its highest pitch as they physically immerse themselves in a city so huge and modern it makes New York City look traditional.
A welcome aspect of Lost in Translation is the sense of loving respect and detail to honest characters. It’s enough for Bob and Charlotte to simply enjoy each other’s company.
Adding to the sympathetic perspective, Coppola seems to write much of herself into Charlotte’s character. When Charlotte tries to cut through the niceties with one of her friends in America, only to be disappointed, or pulls her hair up to find a new frame for her face, one gathers that it takes one to know one.
Bill Murray seems to have finally found a few dramatic roles that fit his character. He’s worked with another young film director, Wes Anderson, in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, in mostly dramatic roles.
Sofia Coppola’s career has been perhaps best known for who she knows. Obviously, her father, Francis Ford Coppola, has everything to do with her opportunity. Being married to Spike Jonze heightens the celebrity buzz all the more.
With her privilege, she’s been able to focus on the finer things in life: art, music, movies … and now it seems she’s able to realize a plot among her other accolades.
‘Lost In Translation’ opened last Friday and was screened too late to publish in last week’s issue of ‘scene.’