Lost in Translation (2003)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Comedy of Manners  |   Release Date - Sep 12, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - Japan, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation is a low-key but emotionally penetrating story that contains a multitude of feelings. Simultaneously delicate and assured, the film is about two people who find each other at the right time in their lives. Scarlett Johansson's confused and lonely Charlotte is smart enough to know that her marriage may be a mistake, but she is not emotionally equipped to know how to handle the problem. Her outstanding performance balances sadness, intelligence, vulnerability, and self-possession. Bill Murray gives the finest performance of his career as the actor who is, thanks to an emotionally stunted marriage and a sell-out career move, suffering from a mid-life crisis. Bob Harris could keep people at a distance with his comedic armor, much like Bill Murray, but he is at a phase in life where he is tired of acting that way. Murray delivers a disciplined, nuanced performance that deserves the highest forms of praise. Coppola herself shows that The Virgin Suicides was not beginner's luck. She frames Japan so that the audience feels how "foreign" it is for her two protagonists, while still showing great respect for the people and the culture even when her characters, in their more selfish moments, do not. With two films to her credit, Sofia Coppola has proven herself to be a master of tone and indirect characterization. The natures of the people in this film are revealed through behavior and through conversations that usually have very little to do with the plot. We get a glimpse of the depth of Charlotte's unhappiness in a phone call to a friend, and Bob's karaoke performance reveals his contained emotions for this young woman who has touched him in ways he believed were untouchable. Lost in Translation is a beautiful film. It is beautifully shot, but most importantly what passes between Bob and Charlotte is beautiful. Their time together will stay with each of them, and the viewer, for a very long time.