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"Lost in Translation" Makes the Meaning of Life Sound Elusive
Lost in Translation ' 2 Stars (Average)
"Lost in Translation" was written and directed by Sofia Coppola and won enough awards to fill a grocery cart.
The independent film earned Sofia Coppola an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and also had 2003 Oscar nominations for Best Picture (won by "The Lord of the Rings, the Return of the King", bad timing for Sofia), Best Director (won by Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings) and Bill Murray as Best Actor (won by Sean Penn in "Mystic River").
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" lost the same nomination as Murray. I would have voted for Johnny Depp as Best Actor rather than Sean Penn.
Sofia Coppola's creation also won Golden Globe awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Bill Murray), and earned nominations for Best Director and Best Actress (Scarlett Johansson).
The Oscar win was among 70 wins and 58 more nominations. To say Sofia Coppola's creation was lauded by the critics would be a huge understatement.
Seeing this film, I would not have guessed it would have won so many awards.
Sofia Coppola wrote the lead role specifically for Bill Murray, and later said that if Murray turned it down, she would have scrapped the project.
She was nothing if not persistent in recruiting Murray for the role. In 1999, Murray apparently replaced his talent agency with a voice mailbox and an 800 number he gives out sparingly.
Coppola reportedly left hundreds of messages before Murray finally called back to discuss her offer to cast him as the star. Coppola apparently knows something about selecting actors who win awards.
Lost in Translation follows Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a fading American film actor with a humdrum marriage, who is in Tokyo to do a Japanese whiskey commercial. He meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a recently college graduate in philosophy and the bored wife of a photographer doing a shoot in Tokyo.
They develop an unlikely friendship when the language barrier, Japanese culture and their own discontent surfaces. When it is time for them to resume their normal lives, leaving becomes difficult.
I give Sofia Coppola a lot of credit for not writing into the script a sexual relationship between the two. In Hollywood this would be like taking the financier's money and not worshipping at his or her feet.
Coppola had it her way because this independent film cost only $4 million to make, was filmed in 27 days and grossed $44.5 million at last count.
The opening of the film has a lingering shot of Scarlett Johansson (as Charlotte) lying in bed sideways in her panties. Johansson was apparently reluctant to film the shot until Sofia Coppola modeled the panties herself.
Thankfully, this opening was not a precursor to the film, which sought to explore a more important issue: the meaning of life. As two unhappy individuals in their roles, both Murray and Johansson struggle to find real meaning in their current circumstances.
What happens in their exploration is really nothing special. As a viewer I was waiting to see where their relationship was going because they came to no conclusions together, or on their own.
Therein is why I gave this film an average rating rather than a good or excellent rating. I wanted real substance in this film that I could relate to in my everyday life, and I was left wanting.
How odd is it that Bob and Charlotte never introduce themselves to each other despite spending days together contemplating their mutual miserable situations? This makes no sense to me whatsoever, and does not ring true in real life.
Despite winning an Oscar for her original screenplay, Sofia Coppola does not give the substance I expect. Hollywood pours out awards for her effort, and to me it only reflects why Hollywood is called Tinseltown, all show, confusion and stress without real substance.
Ultimately, both characters are seeking meaning in their lives.
One viewer wrote this about the film, "Overall the film is just perfect. The acting, the direction, the soundtrack, plot, themes, humor, visuals . . . what's not to like?"
What's not to like is this: People who seek true love seldom find it. People who seek the perfect mate never find the perfect mate. People who seek to find the true meaning of life seldom find it.
The reason is simple: you do not bring meaning to your life by seeking meaning in your life, you bring meaning to your life by giving meaning to your life. Life does not come to you, you come to life, or you become an unhappy, dissatisfied person.
When we blame others we give up our ability to change.
Lost in Translation has some great scenes of Tokyo, but like pictures in a photo album, they only reflect the meaning you bring to them.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
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