Lost In Translation (6)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


 Approximately two decades ago I attended a small dinner party.  One of the people in attendance said he was the brother of Francis Ford Coppola.  I believed him because it was a party of celebrities (author Judith Krantz was there) and he had a beard like Francis.  He told of the new film he was preparing, all about a blind man told from the blind man’s vantage point.  In other words, the screen was all dark all the time.

 Now we get Lost In Translation, written, produced, and directed by Francis’s only daughter, Sofia, the niece of the guy who said he was the brother of Francis. If watching a film with the screen black sounds kind of slow, it would prepare you for this one, which defines the word “slow.”

 Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an aging actor in Japan to do whiskey commercials.  Charlotte (Scarlett Johansen) is a young wife, fresh out of Yale, in Japan with her photographer-husband, John (Giovanni Ribisi). Both feel they have been minimized by their respective spouses. Murray does a good job of looking bored, but the best job of acting in the movie is by Johansen, who captures the part of a young wife who feels she’s being neglected and finds herself attracted to an older man magnificently. Their mutual ennui is exacerbated by an unflattering picture of life in Japan for Americans.  Interesting cinematography alternates between the noise and bright lights of the streets to scenes in the hotel bars shot in what appears to be available light.

 If you’ve got patience, you might enjoy it, but this is S-L-O-W.  For me, it flunked the watch test (I looked at mine more than ten times) as nothing continued to happen on the screen, but I did find it ultimately satisfying, even though it would have been much better if it had come in 30 minutes shorter than the final 105 minutes running time.  Apparently interminable movies run in the Coppola blood.

 September 19, 2003

 The End