September 24, 2003
English / Japanese
Everyone Wants To Be Found — LOST IN TRANSLATION.
Spectacular in style and subtlety. Bill Murray is perfect. Like we’re watching a documentary about him perfect. He’s funny and sad and happy and horny and lonely, often all at once. The style is flashy and loud and quiet and slow. Japan is shown both as introspective traditional and loudly flashing. Scarlett Johansson is also special as the 20-something woman who becomes his partner in crime. The opening shot is of her rear end in pink see-through panties. We linger for a bit longer than we’re comfortable. Keeping in mind that the director is a woman, that simple shot sets up and provides meaning for the entire story to come.
I am a complete sucker for films about chance encounters. People come in and out of our lives at a breathtaking pace, often for just moments at a time. What if I would have talked to that man on the street? What if I had been courageous enough to ask the woman directions? There are opportunities for quick interactions at every turn, but most of us just let them pass. One of this movie’s scenes, shown in the trailer, is Murray and an old Japanese man waiting in a hospital. They don’t even share a language, but they share a moment.
Murray and Johansson play two people out of sorts with the country they find themselves visiting. They are also a bit out of sorts in their marriages, in their lives, in their fears. They are two people out of sorts even when they’re in their own homes surrounded by their own families.
I had one of those rare moments while watching this film. One of those times when I smile at the sheer originality of the choice a director makes. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but in the world of movies it is. We don’t get to hear everything that’s said, even between the two main characters. We see them whisper. We don’t hear the words. Perfect.
There are many ways the story could have gone, but the way Coppola went seems the most honest, the most realistic, even if it is the least filmish. The relationship between the two is believable. Go see it.