| Usa, 2003
directed by Sofia Coppola, starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
After directing the haughty and conceited The Virgin Suicides (1999) , Sofia Coppola straightened her storytelling and chose a new consistency in moviemaking.
Lost in translation is a lyrical movie with a simple, almost too weary plot: a man and a woman, both married but actually lonely their own way, happen to stay in a foreign country - Japan - whose culture they can't understand or accept. When they meet - at first unintentionally - a relationship slowly starts to develope. It's something built on the unsaid, hard to explain and show, but impossible to ignore. A love story set in a Tokyo full of lights and noises, a feast for eyes and ears, a place whose loudness compels (or maybe helps) to blank emotions, feelings, love.
Such a plot pitch could hardly strike some interest. But Lost in translation is not an outstanding or visionary piece of work: its beauty dwells in few ideas pursued with strenght, agility and a great lyrical attitude.
The movie's main goal is to grip to the main characters, following their story without detours or unsettling wanderings. That's something Bill Murray's superb performance embodies perfectly, a stand-alone piece that - in the first thirty minutes of the movie - needs nothing else to create a peculiar mood made of a refined irony. Sofia Coppola makes room for a great funnyman that can make you laugh or move you just using a single sneaking or melancholic glance, or even a half-smile. Scarlett Johansson's heavenly beauty is the perfect match: here comes a colourful, peculiar, poetic couple.
The director is never intrusive, helming the movie with a very refined balance: Lost in translation is a complete work, his strong point being the characters' set-up, made of restless, witty and lively gags and intense moods.
Such an entertaining beginning, we must note, is followed by a not equally satisfying developement. But the ending - even if not as powerful as the set-up - is strong and moving, unexpectedly lifting a story that becomes again exhilarating and affecting.
All in all, Lost in translation is a quite good movie, showing Sofia Coppola's artistical growth after her first feature film. Above all, we must praise her for handling so well Bill Murray's skills, a sometimes underrated actor that here can fully show his talent, thus becoming - last but not least - a private hero to us.