|Lost in Translation
There's an almost ethereal rawness to this film that gets way under the skin; these are real people struggling in a foreign place with intensely internal issues. The dialog is breathtakingly natural--edgy, hesitant, sharp and often hilarious. And these two excellent actors give astonishingly transparent performances! Murray brings all his experience into this role as a tired but mischievous has-been, playing on his history hilariously then twisting it into something deeply poignant. For example, the karaoke sequence instantly reminds us of his hysterical SNL lounge singer ("Star Wars, Those near and far wars!"), then suddenly shifts into something bracingly powerful. Meanwhile, Johansson gives another warm, introspective turn as a young woman on the brink of her whole life, but without a clue where to go next. Writer-director Sofia Coppola shows that The Virgin Suicides was no fluke. Sure she's well connected (Francis' daughter and Spike Jonze's wife), but she's also seriously gifted at capturing the emotional essence of a story, pacing the action gorgeously and meaningfully putting characters and themes ahead of plot and structure. The unspoken longings in this film are remarkably moving. And if it drags a bit in the middle, at least it's doing so for a very good reason.
dir-scr Sofia Coppola
with Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, Akiko Takeshita, Catherine Lambert, Yutaka Tadokoro, Jun Maki, Fumihiro Hayashi, Hiroko Kawasaki, Nobuhiko Kitamura, Ryuichiro Baba
release US 3.Oct.03; UK 9.Jan.04
Turning Japanese: Murray and Johansson on the streets of Tokyo
Dave Haviland, London: "Bill Murray gives a laconic, understated performance as a man resigned to his own irrelevance. Scarlett Johansson is brave and beautiful as a young woman searching for her role in the world. The slowness of the narrative feels entirely appropriate, capturing the charactersí insomnia and ennui, and giving their experiences of Tokyo a surreal, dream-like quality. Despite its indie credentials and languorous pace this is in some respects a conventional romance which needs to convince us that the couple canít get together; only then can we be truly involved and surprised if and when they do. Sofia Coppola achieves this with two married characters, a thirty-year age gap and a downbeat style that seems to require a downbeat ending. As a result the scenes between the two are consistently enthralling and loaded with tension and longing. However the film disappoints slightly with its condescending tone. Still this is a minor reservation for one of the funniest, most moving films of the year." (30.Dec.03)
Laurie T, Minneapolis: "We went to see this movie after all the Golden Globe nominations, and besides, I always have liked Bill Murray. After seeing this movie I can see what the fuss is about. I liked it! It is one of those movies that make you walk away thinking, what would I do in those circumstances? I would recommend seeing it before the Academy Awards - just to say yeah, I saw that. And I can see why everyone else likes it." (19.Feb.04)
Bill Murray was inspired casting -- probably his his best role in years. Was he your first choice?
Sofia Coppola: Yeah, actually I wrote with him in mind because Iíd always wanted to work with him. And to see him play a romantic lead, and also this combination of being really fun and sweet and the sadder, more tender side of him. That was one of the things when I was writing it. I just wanted to see this big American out of place in Tokyo and really to have both sides, the humour and the sadness.
How well do you understand the limbo situation, the jet-lag, the clashing of cultures, everything that goes with travelling to weird and wonderful places and ending up on your own?
Sofia, how much of yourself is in the character that Scarlett plays?
What did you like most and least about Tokyo?
The karaoke scene is great -- how much of it was planned?
Did any of you go to a karaoke bar in Japan?
Which song was your favourite to perform, Scarlett?
So youíre a disco queen?
And Miss Coppola?
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?
Do you have any experience of Japanese commercials?
Did you have any trouble with the authorities while filming?
LONDON, JAN.04 (Special thanks to Elsa OíToole)