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Lost in Translation Movie Poster

Year: 2003
Director: Sofia Coppola

Lost in Translation Download

Cast:

Scarlett Johansson (Charlotte), Bill Murray (Bob Harris), Akiko Takeshita (Ms. Kawasaki), Kazuyoshi Minamimagoe (Press Agent), Kazuko Shibata (Press Agent), Take (Press Agent), Ryuichiro Baba (Concierge), Akira Yamaguchi (Bellboy), Catherine Lambert (Jazz Singer), Fran├žois du Bois (Sausalito Piano (as Francois du Bois)), Tim Leffman (Sausalito Guitar), Gregory Pekar (American Businessman #1), Richard Allen (American Businessman #2), Giovanni Ribisi (John), Diamond Yukai (Commercial Director (as Yutaka Tadokoro)), Jun Maki (Suntory Client), Nao Asuka (Premium Fantasy Woman), Tetsuro Naka (Stills Photographer), Kanako Nakazato (Make-Up Person), Fumihiro Hayashi (Charlie)

Storyline:

Bob Harris is an American film actor, far past his prime. He visits Tokyo to appear in commercials, and he meets Charlotte, the young wife of a visiting photographer. Bored and weary, Bob and Charlotte make ideal if improbable traveling companions. Charlotte is looking for "her place in life," and Bob is tolerating a mediocre stateside marriage. Both separately and together, they live the experience of the American in Tokyo. Bob and Charlotte suffer both confusion and hilarity due to the cultural and language differences between themselves and the Japanese. As the relationship between Bob and Charlotte deepens, they come to the realization that their visits to Japan, and one another, must soon end. Or must they?

Reviews:

I was just like every other curious American filmgoer a few months ago when I went and saw Lost in Translation for the first time. That's right, I wanted to know what in the hell was so great about the movie that critics were calling possibly the best of the year and a modern masterpiece. I saw Translation for the first time and liked it, but didn't really know what they saw in the movie that was so beyond-belief spectacular. But alas, I believe that every movie deserves a second chance (i.e. - the miracle of hating Moulin Rouge on round one and having it shoot near the top of my favorites of all time a year later), so just recently I sat down and experienced director Sophia Coppola's Lost In Translation again.

Lost in Translation tells the story of Bob Harris (Bill Murray in a role tailor-made, if not even Heaven-sent for him), an American movie star that comes to Tokyo to film a whiskey commerical for which he will be paid 2 million bucks. Staying in the same Tokyo hotel is Charlotte (Scarlett Johanssen, radiant and mature at only 18), a newlywed tagging along with her rock photographer husband, John (a typically awkward Giovanni Ribisi). Along the way, Charlotte and Bob run into each other and begin a 'brief encounter' that profoundly affects them both.

When the movie hits you right, it's a pure pleasure from its unassuming start (a beautifully lit shot up Johanssen's underwear-clothed behind) to its ambiguous but meaningful ending. It begins as a comedy of culture clash, Harris sarcastic and confused at the Japanese when entering his hotel, and even more befuddled in a hilarious scene where he shoots the whiskey commerical (and one later during a photo shoot). Coppola delivers Bob into her movie with the impression that it'll be all about him (he has plenty of great scenes, even at just the beginning), but Charlotte enters the story, and we're never quite the same. Scarlett Johanssen plays Charlotte with just the right amount of emotion that her initially morose and soul-searching character doesn't seem silly. At one point, she tearfully admits over the phone, "I don't know who I married." This may come off as silly, but consider her position: far away from home, newly married, in a big intimidating city, and her husband is away on a photo shoot. Bob, on the other hand, seems to have it made, but Murray lets a current of loneliness run across that memorable face that seems to hint at something more. He gets comical faxes from his wife about bookshelves and carpet samples, but he gives off the impression that he's come to the point where he doesn't even care anymore. Bob is certainly alone for a time in Tokyo, but Murray gives off the impression that things at home aren't too hot either.

For the first third of the movie, director Coppola displays her first brave choice in filmmaking by keeping Bob and Charlotte apart. During this time, the smooth, languid pace of the film falls into place, and by languid I don't mean 'boring.' Upon my first viewing of Translation, I wasn't convinced of Coppola's choice to keep the movie so predominantly low-key, but I've realized that there's a reason for it. The movie sustains this amazing vibe that doesn't stunt its progress, but propels it with a driving fluidity. A few times, though, Bob and Charlotte do see each other without officially meeting. One time in particular occurs in a crowded elevator - the two glance at each other, faintly smile, and possibility is born. The first section of the film doesn't just serve to show its two characters completely apart - it makes you think of how many life-changing connections you've missed in the past by just being passive and solitary.

Coppola successfully juggles Bob and Charlotte apart, but when they do meet, it's pure magic. They begin voyages out into the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and the film almost takes on a perspective that differs from its earlier view. Before, we saw Bob Harris and Charlotte, respectively, at their most private and vulnerable. While out on the town, the film seems to sit back and just let them have fun. Thank God, for Bill Murray's rousing rendition of Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" is a blast. During this time, it seems that Bob and Charlotte have forgotten their insomnia and loneliness, but it's not gone forever. Even during their night on the town, we see moments where they sit silently, pensive and confused. The movie is a comedy in some sense, but it escalates into a pervading tragic feel. At one point, Charlotte says to Bob: "Let's never come back here again, because it will never be as much fun." I was struck deeply by this because, well, they had fun, but only in the sense of putting off more loneliness and desperation.

The movie takes a while to truly glean out the deep-seated motivations of both of its characters, but they become fully-realized in a marvelous scene where Bob and Charlottelay fully-clothed in bed together. Here, they handle the 'big' questions in life, and not "Where did you go to college?" or "What did you want to be when you were little?" but "What is my purpose?" and "Does marraige get easier?" I was amazed at the honesty of the character's responses. Bob relates to Charlotte the experience of having children and the ongoing struggles of marraige, but a tinge of fear and apprehension runs through his speech. Charlotte hasn't really figured things out for herslef yet - she says she's tried just about everything but hasn't found that niche. Coppola's screenplay takes these two separate beings, far apart in age and experiences, and makes a profound statement - both are in the same exact emotional limbo. Charlotte is confused and worried, but Bob is regretful and washed-up. In a way, these two are some form of deeply odd soul-mates. That is the heart and soul of Coppola's amazing work.

I couldn't end this review without mentioning another star behind the scenes of the movie that is nearly as effective to the film as Director/Screenwriter Sophia Coppola. That is cinematographer Lance Acord, who should just start writing his Oscar acceptance speech now. He has worked on Coppola's husband's (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonze) films before, but this is his finest, most beautiful work yet. He captures Japan, and the film's characters, with such a soft-but-colorfully-abstract flare that it's nearly inexplicable. I often wondered why, beyond the fact that they have so much to think about, Bob and Charlotte (especially her) are seen staring out windows so much. If they see Tokyo with the same awe-inspiring glow that the film does, they have no better reason.

Perhaps the movie didn't sit as well with me the first time because I kept attempting to figure out what the movie was. It has great comedic flair with Murray's wonderful work, but it's also perhaps one of the saddest and most moving films I've seen in a long time. It's some form of a romance, too, but it's not about when they'll kiss or when they'll hit the sheets (one kiss on the cheek becomes unbearably awkward). It also has that Affair to Remember vibe too, where the journey of two souls that find comfort will eventually have to come to an end. Its end, though, defies classification, as does the rest of the film. Many times during the film's quaint, quietly moving finale, I expected lush music to start playing to underscore the escalating sadness of the film. It doesn't. Coppola simply lets her two amazing leads do the work. When the film does arrive at its final, ambiguous moment, it all just seems perfect. The catchy Japan-pop soundtrack that runs brilliantly throughout the film begins to play, and I find myself with a huge regret: that I won't be able to savor the subtle chemistry of Bob and Charlotte, and that a flat-out masterpiece in American film is at its end.



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Few movies make you THINK long after they end. That's OK. Movies are supposed to entertain and most do so without requiring even one ounce of thought. It's sad that maybe some of you out there prefer movies- and life- that way. Thankfully this movie is all about thinking and feeling. This is not a chick flick. It's a human experience flick.

This film examines and lays bare the intricacies of love, life and loneliness; the claustrophobia, insomnia and disorientation of traveling to a foreign country. The loneliness that creeps in after life's normality starts to wear thin. The spark of promise that meeting someone new brings. This is what life is about and what this film so flawlessly portrays.

How many of you can relate to and have actually been that guy/girl on business, in the hotel in some foreign city, happily married yet feeling alone and beaten by life's banality? How many of us have been tempted in that very situation, to stray from the confines of moral adherence for the lure of a forbidden, if fleeting, joy? How many have felt that tingle- that spark- when a stranger smiles and you think, "you know, in another life..."? Change the time, place and all of us have been there whether we admit it or not. Maybe single people don't get this movie; maybe it's for those of us who have walked down that aisle and are wiser to the realities of life.

The characters here are true. Their dialog is true. The setting is true. It's all tirelessly fascinating because we can all relate to it and it involves us in a way that most movies do not. We find ourselves drawn to every moment these two experience together and apart. We are intrigued by the glances, nuances and words they share.

Johanssen is brilliant and beautiful as the lonely, young wife questioning her marriage. Her beauty is classic, not necessarily sexual, though she is obviously alluring in this role. Her bee-stung lips, perfect body and haunting eyes may have something to do with that. Still she's more sophisticated beauty than mindless hottie, even at 19. This is a role tailor-made for her. It could never have been Reese Witherspoon or Jessica Alba or - God forbid- Jessica Simpson, or anybody else in that realm.

Murray is simply at his best. He does "exasperated, middle-aged and depressed" better than most, with his receding hairline and frumpy body. You really believe that these two could connect in a physical and emotional way, as remote as that may seem on the surface. What other 50-something could ever be believed to be appealing to a young woman as pretty as Charlotte? That's a tough chemistry to fake and I can't think of a more perfect pair. What drives them to this attraction is what's intriguing to watch.

Go see this. Turn off your "Major Blockbuster-Tom Cruise-Action-Pop Culture Catch Phrase-Big Star" mind and tune in with a more searching self. Watch this with your soul and heart, not your eyes. If you look deeper than the surface you'll find yourself moved by the whole experience. Yes, it's THAT good.

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