ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Facing uncertainty in Lost
By Maggie Wrobel
Lost in Translation
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Gazette file photo
LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE... both onscreen
and off. Scarlett Johansson delivers a stellar performance
in Lost in Transition.
You know that feeling you get waiting for the bus at the Natural
Sciences Centre on a rainy day? That miserable, bordering-on-depression
weight in the pit of your stomach that just gets heavier with
the thought the only thing waiting for you at home is a box
of Kraft Dinner and a mountain of untouched homework?
With Lost in Translation, director and screenwriter Sofia
Coppola focuses on these exact feelings, but wraps them in
a wistful, dreamy fog that somehow manages to romanticize the
ambiguity of seemingly endless waiting. The film freezes a
moment in time, acting as a series of gorgeous photographs
bound together by the hesitant relationship between the two
Newfound ingénue (and Coppola look-alike) Johansson
is Charlotte, a semi-newlywed waiting for her "real" life to
begin. She is in her early twenties and spends her days sitting
in a hotel room in Tokyo waiting to catch a glimpse of her
rock photographer husband (a joyously infantile Ribisi) as
he runs around taking pictures of trendy folk.
Charlotte has the kiss of death... er... a college degree
in psychology under her belt and has dabbled in photography
and writing while trying to find her "true calling in life." Murray
plays Bob Harris, a washed up movie star trapped in the autumn
of his years, who visits Tokyo periodically to shoot whiskey
commercials. Bob's cold bitchy wife mostly communicates with
him by fax, as her main concern in their marriage isn't if
he's happy, but what shade of burgundy the carpeting in his
office should be.
Together, Bob and Charlotte epitomize the similarities between
the midlife crisis and the newly dubbed quarter-life crisis.
The two evidently connect because of their shared fears and
frustrations and the bustling cityscape of Tokyo relays the
feeling of being in the middle of an almost unbearable amount
Murray's delicately moving performance is one for the Hollywood
scrapbook of all-time greats, but the real surprise here is
18-year-old Johansson, who manages to hold her own against
the well-marinated acting chops of a veteran like Murray. Lost
is Coppola's second full-length feature (the first was her
well-received 1999 adaptation of the novel The Virgin Suicides)
and it announces her arrival in the big leagues of cinema with
an elegant whisper instead of a brash bang.
The spirit of the entire film is captured in the character
of Charlotte, who is widely rumoured to be based on Coppola
herself. She's a dewy-eyed innocent with an old, worldly soul
- she hopes something fulfilling will come her way, but has
an underlying fear it won't - and thankfully, Coppola has the
innovative skills to tell this familiar tale of uncertainty
in a fresh, new way.