A confession: the first time I saw this movie, I hated it. I didn't want to see it again. Ever. I couldn't understand why there was such a big fuss around the movie. It was slow, long, and boring. But a couple years later, I was strapped to a chair and forced to watch it against my will. Then again, a couple years after that. And finally, after the what must be the third or fourth time seeing it, I'm actually starting to get it. Lost In Translation follows the brief and fleeting quasi-romance of a washed out actor (Bill Murray) and a recent college graduate (Scarlett Johansson), as they both struggle to keep their heads above water in the electric culture shock of Tokyo, Japan.
The script itself is pretty good and Bill Murray works it well, his comic timing folds in perfectly with the easy, straight-face humor. The characters themselves are nice, dynamic, and human, but I still find myself not able to actually like any of them, with the except of maybe Anna Faris' character who was just too dim-witted to understand her own ridiculousness. Still, despite the faults of this movie, I have to give credit where credit it due--the directing is phenomenal.
Sofia Coppola won the Oscar for best directing on this one, and it was well deserved (edit: Sofia Coppola should have won the Oscar for best directing on this one. There I go, thinking the Oscars have a sense of justice again). This movie is a lesson in atmosphere, in camera angles, in tone. Every second you watch it, you feel like you're in Tokyo, you feel the claustrophobia, the headaches, the culture shock. The real strength of this movie also happens to be the one thing that keeps me away from it; it's over ninety minutes of visual jet lag. And so, yes, I have to commend the artistry and the precision that it took Sofia Coppola to keep that vibrant intensity for the entirety of the movie. Truly a lesson in the craft of directing. Now excuse me while I lay down and take a melatonin.