Review: Lost in Translation
Caleb Jonh Clark, 09/23/03
If Bill gets an academy out of this I think I’ll know why. There’s a scene near the end in the lobby of a shinny hotel as he’s leaving Japan. He hasn’t said goodbye to Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in the right way, hasn’t expressed some tidbit of the tumult of words merry go rounding his in head that he felt for and about her. He’s a crowd of five Japanese handlers and they want a picture. The camera is on him and he keep looking at Charlotte walking away with a wonderful expression of sadness. The flash goes off, and you know what the picture will be like. Then he realizes it went off and does this amazing pained smile, his face betraying the force it is taking him to do it, and at the same time he’s frowning too. It was great. Luckily it doesn’t end there, or i would have been depressed. But the way it ends was happy for me.
He got to say what he wanted and hug her (in a brilliant stroke, Coppola made him mumble in her ear so we couldn’t hear what he said, anybody know? It’s driving me crazy!). She cried. He left smiling. Now able to do what he has to, and ultimately wants to, do.
It was a good movie. Slow in a way I have not seen in a megaplex for a while. Coppola had a style of making mini music videos between dialog scenes, shots of the city, expressions on faces, people walking. She also didn’t have the characters speak what we were thinking all the time, or what they were thinking, like it is in real life sometimes. To him Charlotte was youth perhaps, the joy of confusion, wrapped in a wise mind that sees the craziness of the world and cringes around those who seem not to and only be wrapped up in living life. I’m not sure what he made her think of, but I am sure that their attraction was based on seeing the same things in life. And they were not so sad, just in melancholy situations. He was struggling to face his life, no longer a young film star acting, but an aging star selling out, married with kids, and out of shape. She was seeing her husband get on with living and being married and working, and she hadn’t gotten on the train and didn’t like feeling pressured to jump before she was ready. And they were both birds of a feather. The clue I think was when she was wondering what to do in life, and he said, “keep writing.” Because they both had the writer’s eye. Around her he could smile and be funny, because she got the same joke, she was in on the gag, the joke of trying to make a life real amid such a wacky species as us humans.