He battled a pesky groundhog in “Caddyshack” and scary ghosts in
“Ghostbusters,” but now Bill Murray takes on Japan in his new film,
“Lost in Translation.” The dramedy, directed by Sophia Coppola,
continues Murray’s recent tradition of choosing more deep and
introspective roles, and he has never been better.
Murray stars as Bob Harris, a famous American actor who travels
to Tokyo to shoot an ad campaign for a brand of whisky. He quickly
discovers the frustrations that come with the language and culture
differences. Bob eventually meets a fellow American staying at his
hotel and forges an uncommon bond with the young woman.
That young woman is named Charlotte, and played by an appealing
Scarlett Johansson (“Ghost World”). Charlotte is in Tokyo with her
photographer husband, an underused Giovanni Ribisi, and is left to
entertain herself most of the time, since her husband is busy
These two strangers eventually find one another and feed off
each other’s boredom and sleeplessness to experience Japan
together. Charlotte is a recent college graduate and Bob is many
years her senior, yet the two exhibit a convincing connection. Both
of them are involved in lifeless marriages and have similar
reactions to their foreign surroundings.
“Lost in Translation” is essentially a study of life, culture
and unexpected relationships. Tokyo is portrayed as more of a
chaotic video game than a thriving city, but that only acts as a
catalyst to drive these two people together. The more time Bob and
Charlotte spend together, the more invested they get in the
relationship which begins to teeter on the romantic side.
There are scenes in the movie that are very funny, ones that are
almost poetic, and ones that manage to be both. Consider the moment
in which Bill Murray sings karaoke to Roxy Music’s, “More Than
This.” The scene is funny while at the same time strangely
Bob and Charlotte are one of the most offbeat pairings in recent
cinema, and Murray and Johansson give great performances as the
duo. Murray could and should get recognition come Oscar time, while
the director and film itself are deserving of nominations as
“Lost in Translation” has been receiving huge critical praise
since opening in select cities last month, and thankfully it
expanded last weekend to more cities, including Fort Collins.
4 out of 4 Rams