Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lost In Translation.

Very rarely do you come across a movie that speaks to you. That reaches out beyond the screen, and touches your feelings. That makes you think about it constantly, long after it's ended. Lost In Translation is one of those rare diamonds in the rough.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, it tells the story of an actor (Bill Murray) and a neglected wife (Scarlett Johannson), who are in Tokyo for a brief while. Even in the midst of a bustling city, there is a pervading sense of loneliness in both their lives, he because his marriage is meaningless and his wife keeps calling up to ask about wood samples, and she because her husband gives her little or no attention.

Eventually they meet, and drift into a relationship that is very casual yet friendly, simple yet deep, and short-lived yet meaningful.

Can a person be lonely even in the midst of crowds? Can one feel totally alone inspite of constant attention? Lost In Translation proves that it's possible, and that it's also possible for two complete strangers, with nothing in common, to become attached to one another.

If you're looking for high-paced action or saccharine sweetness, you won't find it here. This is a film that is profoundly simple, and simply profound- touching in its portrayal of human loneliness and human relationships.

(I'm sure there are lots of people out there who think this movie is pretentious, boring, maybe even racist in its portrayal of the Japanese- I for one think you need to watch this movie with an open mind. It's not pretentious. The lack of sex and action does not make it so. It's not boring- it progresses at its own pace, without rushing. And as for the racism- well, the whole point is that Bob and Charlotte are feeling lost in a new city, and cannot adapt to their culture- and that is what we as viewers are supposed to feel too. If we felt they were understanding the customs and the language really well, then the whole Lost In Translation concept loses its significance.)

Bill Murray's role was literally tailormade for him, and as for Scarlett Johannson- it's impossible not be taken in by her beauty, and not just her acting. Their sense of discomfort in a new city is evident- not understanding the language, and not following the customs. Also, add to that, Sofio Coppola's outstanding direction.

My favourite scene would probably be the one where they are lying in bed, he on his back, she curled up, her toes just touching his leg. They talk about marriage, life, and other such things, he reassures her that things do get better, and lightly strokes her foot.

What makes this movie is so beautiful is probably the lack of any sexual relations between the two. They don't drift into an affair, they don't jump into bed straightaway, but they understand each other- and that can go far deeper than sex itself. There is an undertone in the movie that lies unspoken- their growing attachment is slowly made clear, but never once do you hear the words, "Oh Bob, I'm so glad I met you, Tokyo was so meaningless before" or "Charlotte, I love you, you're the only one I've ever loved." For that would have spoiled the subtlety that makes up this movie.

Its tagline goes: Everyone wants to be found. Lost In Translation is beautiful in its simplicity, lovely in its languidity, and its ending makes you think about what you've watched.