‘Lost’ translates to indie film success

Elissa Vallano

This summer has produced enough big-budget blockbusters to last us until Christmas, when the next wave will come crashing down on us once again. And while action-packed crowd-pleasers are always a fun and important staple in the film industry, it’s the indie films that have the ability to surprise, delight and inspire us. They can also be pretty funny too. This realization has surfed into the mainstream, creating an uproar of over-zealous reviews. But once in an every great while, a movie has the ability to not only live up to the hype that precedes it, but also stun the audience by surpassing all expectations. Writer and director Sofia Coppola has managed to piece together a brilliant story of cross-cultural impotence and the unlikeliest of friendships.

“Lost in Translation” follows the lives of two Americans thrown into the chaotic world of Tokyo, Japan. Bob (Bill Murray) is an aging movie star with personal issues (are there any other kind?) who is in town shooting a whiskey commercial. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is the neglected young wife of a big-time photographer (Giovanni Ribisi) who has followed her husband on a rather lengthy business trip. Both are unable to speak the language and are ever more inept to adjust to the cultural canyon between America and Japan. Even though the two main characters appear to be complete opposites, their similar personal habits and coinciding inner-struggles are shown to us before they even meet.

After a mutual sleepless binge, Bob and Charlotte create a bond. From there they build a deep and hilarious friendship that causes them to question who they are and where they are going.

Bill Murray fans can rest assured knowing that his impeccable comedic timing and classic expressions still remain as perfect as ever. What will certainly be surprising is his touching and heartfelt portrayal that proves he can walk the very thin line of drama and comedy that so few actors in Hollywood can. To not receive an Oscar nomination for this role would be a slap in the face to a man who has proved himself a lasting and invaluable icon.

Scarlett Johansson, who has not yet turned 19, is a natural fit for a role that could have easily been passed on to a less worthy actress who is only good for window dressing. Johansson and Murray have a surprising chemistry that allows for a wonderful balance of friendship and sexual tension.

But Sophia Coppola really steals the show with her amazing and creative script, as well as her flawless direction. The story is not only unique, but also wonderfully hilarious and poignant. The cinematography brilliantly captures the irony of the two characters and sheds light on Tokyo’s absurdity and beauty. The one criticism would be the under-use of the talented Ribisi, which seems trivial next to the film’s many attributes.

“Lost in Translation” covers all the cinematic bases and goes above and beyond what most would expect from such a small-budget movie. It just goes to show you that what makes a great movie is simply devoted actors, ingenious cinematography and the shining vision of a determined Sophia Coppola.