January 02, 2004

Lost In Translation

translation.jpegWe've enjoyed Scarlett Johansson's work since we first saw her in Manny & Lo as a precocious young girl. Her portrayal of Rebecca in Terry Zwigoff's great Ghost World moviefication just confirmed Manny & Lo wasn't a fluke and she jumped to our list of young actresses to keep an eye on. Second-time director Sophia Coppola puts Johansson's talents to good use in this understated film which deserves all the critical attention it's gotten. Johansson plays the bored, over-educated wife of a distracted pop-culture photographer (played with forgettably cipher-like blandness and distraction by Giovanni Ribisi). She has come along with him on a work trip to Tokyo and is mostly left to herself in the elegantly insulated hotel. In the bar she encounters the other character in the movie: Bill Murray. Murray plays a past-his-prime adventure movie actor in town to film a commercial for Suntory Scotch.

The movie is a series of simple interactions between these two people at very different places in their lives. The plot is minimal, and what there is of it is kind of klunky. But while the movie doesn't say very much, it shows quite a lot in its depiction of a bit of authentic human connection in an environment that makes such a thing virtually impossible.

Posted by jeffy at January 2, 2004 05:40 PM

I really enjoyed this film. I wouldn't necessarily say that the plot was klunky. I think the interactions were subtle and realistic. These characters have a connection for a moment in time. A type of connection where for just one moment they are seen and appreciated by another individual. I think that's what this movie offers up.

Sorry for the rambled thoughts.

Posted by: tyd at January 2, 2004 11:27 PM

Your thoughts are less rambling than mine were!

With plot klunkiness I was thinking in particular of Bill Murray's character's indiscretions which I didn't think quite fit his character. And the bits with Scarlett's character's Japanese friends didn't feel real... how would she have become friends with these people?

But you're absolutely right about the attractions of the film. Everything to do with Murray's and Johansson's characters together works wonderfully well.

Posted by: jeffy at January 3, 2004 02:11 AM
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