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Lost in Translation (2003)

Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
Directed and Written by: Sofia Coppola
Produced by: Ross Katz and Sofia Coppola
Running Time: 102 minutes
Rating: R

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are two insomniac Americans in Tokyo. Bob is an American action movie star in town to shoot whisky commercials and Charlotte is tagging along with her distant photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi). After a series of chance encounters in their hotel, Bob and Charlotte form a unique friendship which leads to the discovery of the town they are stuck in and a philosophical treatise on life itself.

Lost in Translation got a ton of well-deserved attention when it came out and led to writer/ director/ producer Sofia Coppola (by the way Sofia, C-a-l-l M-e) gaining recognition for original screenplay at the Academy Awards. The pacing of this movie is one of the elements that set it apart from the vast majority of movies that we see today. Lost in Translation takes it’s time to introduce you to the characters and the city (which is really another character in the flick) and allows you to slowly get the point of the film, almost by osmosis.

Lost in Translation opens with a shot of Scarlett Johansson’s ass, which is only the beginning of a long string of beautiful shots throughout the film. This movie is just gorgeous. Big kudos to Sofia Coppola and D.P. Lance Acord for the lush, shiny, candy-colored scenes that permeate every moment. Tokyo has it’s own flavor and we are served a buffet of the tacky, the techno and the traditional dishes that make up this feast.

Bill Murray is brilliant, and the absolutely perfect choice for the film (Sofia Coppola said that she wouldn’t have done the film without him). He manages to walk a thin line between comedy and drama and pulls it off without fail. Scarlette Johansson, who was given a difficult character to play (and looks fucking fantastic in a pink wig), pulls us in with an engaging, understated delivery that would have been a disaster for a lesser actress.

Lost in Translation is a small film, something that feels like a two-person play, but it is executed with style and grace. It’s exceptionally well written, the film score has some cool music, the acting is excellent and the direction and cinematography are second to none. If you haven’t seen this film yet, set aside a couple of hours and watch it.

The DVD has a short “discussion” between Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray, in lieu of a director commentary in the film. Maybe we don’t need Sofia prattling over the scenes in this movie, but some of us like the option at least. There is a behind-the-scenes documentary that has some interesting moments and gives us an idea of what kind of gonzo production this really was. Of course there are some deleted and extended scenes, a music video and several minutes of a Japanese show that Bob appears on. (As an aside… Mathew, the host of this show, needs desperately to be on the receiving end of John Bradshaw Layfield’s Clothesline-From-Hell).

8 out of 10

Dig it!
-The Beefboy