Monday, 21 September 2015

I've Just Seen: Lost in Translation (2003)

Lost in Translation (2003)
Director: Sofia Coppola

This is the first Sofia Coppola film that I have seen. There is no denying she knows how to create beautiful images. Many of her shot compositions wonderfully capture the ennui of Bob and Charlotte, particularly those where the two characters share the frame, like the famous image of them sitting in front of the zebra-skin wall. Coppola also clearly knows how to get what she wants from her actors; Murray and Johansson (both at the top of their game here) have a different energy to almost everyone else in the film. Johansson's Charlotte is particularly contrasted to Anna Faris' movie star, whose vacuousness plays to every stereotype of Hollywood actors.

The biggest problem I had with Coppola's film is that for all the accomplishment on show, I don't know if I actually cared. The substance behind the images felt a bit shallow. It wasn't the acting, but rather the lack of context for why Bob and Charlotte are so unhappy. Some background is given - distance loved-ones - but it didn't feel quite like enough. The film teetered on the edge of self-indulgent navel-gazing. That is not to say that being materially comfortable in life precludes you from having problems or being depressed; rather, this part was not probed enough for me. The wry distance of the camera clearly didn't draw me in; considering my love for Kubrick, I find this a bit interesting (but only a bit).

Coppola is clearly a very good filmmaker, and I will be happy to watch her other films. But I feel as though I have missed something; this film was so lauded that perhaps it is just me, and my insensitivity to such stories. Or, since this has come out, it has been imitated by other filmmakers so much that its power has been diluted. For me, a good but not a great film.

1 comment:

  1. It is no secret that I love this movie and I think I got a lot more out of it than you did. The vacuum Bob and Charlotte find themselves in finds resonance in the outlandish place of Tokyo. The Hyatt in Sibuyo, where they are staying is exactly this place disconnected from reality and diving into this sea of Japanese is an entirely new and evolving experience for both of them. I visited many of the sights and although some of the scenes are exagerated (the actual jazz bands at the hotel are a lot better than in the movie) you really feel the movie there.