Tarantino’s 50th – Lost in Translation

Tarantio 50 BannerMany thanks to everybody who has followed this series of posts on my blog. I’ve been honoured to have such a great response from both contributors and readers – thank you all very much! To finish up here’s a review of Lost in Translation written by myself.

Lost in Translation PosterLost in Translation is one of my all time favourite films. It’s a story of two people (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) who independently travel to Tokyo, there they meet in a hotel and form an unusual friendship as they together attempt to work through their loneliness, confusions, and insomnia. Sweepingly romantic, the film explores these two characters in some detail through the use of a fantastic score, beautiful cinematography, and a lightness of touch which allows it to be both funny and moving in equal measure.

Aside from how well made this is it’s hard to pin down specific reasons as to why Tarantino rates it so highly. Presumably this wouldn’t influence him too much but he did date its director Sofia Coppola and so there is a connection there. The only tangible one that I can see though is that he too made a film set largely in Japan (Kill Bill), and that both of those have a side character named Charlie Brown in reference to the comic strip. Not the most convincing of links, although they were both dating and releasing their respective films in 2003 – so maybe it’s a subtle shared reference?

Anyway, the performances given here are both really excellent. Murray of course delivers the humour one would expect from him, but he also grounds his character in a slight listlessness and the combination is very effective. Johansson is relatively early on into her career but is arguably at her best here, switching between portraying disillusionment and eagerness with a natural ease. Both characters are potentially rather unlikeable but under the hands of these two actors, as well as Coppola’s direction, they manage to charm and affect us to the point where re-watching this film feels to me like revisiting old friends.

Lost in Translation is often described as being without plot, as a film where nothing much happens and perhaps to some degree that is true. However I see nothing wrong with taking the time out to focus on the development of a relationship. It’s handled so very well here that time seems to fly by as you watch the movie, the developing connection between these two people worms its way into your memory and doesn’t easily let go. Quentin, I have failed to spot many connections between this and your work but you certainly do have good taste. This is a marvellous film and is one which I can easily spend a great deal of time with.

Let me know what you think below by leaving a comment! Thanks for reading!

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22 comments

  1. A great review to end a very well done blogathan. I’ve never seen the film but you really sell it. Nice one, Mr Rumsey! 🙂

    1. Cheers man! That’s much appreciated 😀

  2. Natalie P · · Reply

    Awesome blogathon, and an interesting last post 🙂

    1. Thank you very much Natalie!

  3. […] Mr. Rumsey also celebrated Tarantino this week with many guest-posts (including my grammar-mistake-filled-The-Unbreakable) and his own take on Lost in Translation. […]

  4. Excellent post of a great film.

    1. Thanks! It really is a fantastic film – glad you agree 😀

  5. I think my favorite thing is that they don’t end up doing it. Just recently re-watched this and had almost forgotten how amazing it was.

    1. Yeah it’s pretty brave in that regard! I didn’t truly appreciate this film until I think my third viewing. I knew it must be good though because it kept drawing me back each time 😀

  6. Also noticed that your gravatar image does not have a link back to your blog you might want to adjust that.

  7. Cheers, I’ll look into it.

  8. I adore this film. I also found the first third of the movie quite bravely done by Coppola; she keeps our main characters apart from each other in order for the audience to understand both Bob and Charlotte until they finally meet. What I find so interesting about when they first glance at each other in the Elevator is how it makes you think of how many life-changing connections you’ve missed in your past by just being passive. The process of Bob and Charlotte’s relationship is believable and moves smoothly, Charlotte excusing herself from her husband just to speak to Bob, an encounter at a Swimming pool, Charlotte inviting Bob out for drinks with friends which turns into an exciting night for the both of them. They have a relationship that is really interesting to watch, which is what makes this film that more special.

    1. I really like your thought about the elevator scene, I hadn’t considered that before when watching it.
      Yeah it’s an interesting decision to keep them apart; the first time I saw it I was kept wondering what contrived method would bring them together and then, as you say, it was handled naturally and believably. Very impressive. Their relationship is one of my absolute favourites, it’s right up there with Thelma and Louise’s.
      Are you looking forward to The Bling Ring?

  9. […] “Both characters are potentially rather unlikeable but under the hands of [Murray and Johansson], as well as Coppola’s direction, they manage to charm and affect us to the point where re-watching this film feels like revisiting old friends.” — James from Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings (read the full review) […]

  10. Moshimoshi · · Reply

    Suntory time scene –> Inglourious Basterds “Bar Scene” 🙂

    1. I’m not sure about that! 😀

  11. After seeing your top 10 post on The Cinema Monster I had to come on over and read this review and check out your blog. I really like what I see!

    1. Fantastic – thank you very much, that’s good to hear!
      I’ll be stopping by your blog very soon!

  12. A film I really liked, but my girlfriend hated! I think Bill Murray is only getting better as he gets older, even if he is a bit of a grouch these days.

    1. Well I’m glad that at least one of you liked it! It’s a wonderful film in my eyes.
      I agree on Murray getting better and better, would you want him to be in Ghostbusters 3?

      1. I’m not entirely sure. I feel like it’d have to be a very different film to accommodate him as he is now, but then again it wouldn’t really be right without him either. It’s a toughie.

        1. Hmmm I wonder whether the best route would be to do it without the original cast, and have them as cameos perhaps. As you say, it wouldn’t be the same without Murray but with the rest of the original cast.

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