Movie Marathon #15: Lost in Translation

by thethreepennyguignol

So, Sofia Coppola. She’s someone I’m endlessly torn about; almost tragically earnest, one of the ultimate examples of the Hollywood Babies set. Like a hyper-pretentious Rugrats spin-off.

Her debut, The Virgin Suicides, smacks of middle-class ennui and beautiful women. Lots of long, long shots, taut performances imbued with tension and blonde hair and death.

Then there’s Marie Atoinette. There’s nothing wrong with the film, per say, but it’s an airy confection, made up almost entirely of historical inaccuracy and bouncy soundtracks. It doesn’t feel like a Sofia Coppola film; it doesn’t take itself nearly damn seriously enough. The Bling Ring was another weird one-ostensibly a mockery of the shallow nature of fame-hunters that ended up, to a degree at least, pandering to the very people it claimed to be laughing at.

And that’s why I’m torn. I enjoy most of her movies, but it feels as if I enjoy them for different reasons than she intended; I like them because they look good and sometimes make me laugh. Ms Coppola meant for me to revel in a big, sticky ocean of her great ideas. Except Lost in Translation, which represents my favourite kind of uppity fluff; lusciously shot, sparsely written, witty in an honest way, and with a stray Ghostbuster thrown in for good measure. Top stuff.

It’s a tiny, quiet film-very much like Sideways, which I reviewed yesterday-and is often written off as overly thinky, unfunny comedy, featuring bland performances from pretty people. Honestly: that’s not the case. It’s sparse, yes, but still incredibly witty and featuring my favourite ever Bill Murray performance, as a washed up actor who meets a young newlywed (played by the frankly luscious Scarlett Johansen) by chance in a hotel bar. It offers yet another view on romance and marriage; a contrast between the long-suffering Bill Murray and his eternally offscreen wife and Scarlett and her yuppie buisnessman college boyfriend (played with typical confidence by Giovanni Ribsi). The main relationship is beautifully handled; never ostentatious, wild, silly or overtly dramatic, it’s a wonderfully scored, perfectly understated semi-romance that never really goes anywhere. An ambiguous ending might annoy the hell out of some people; for me, it’s a perfect reflection of the romance Lost in Translation depicts. Wistful, a little sad, but ultimately invested in a future they both know will work one way or another.

Aah. How sweet.