the performances at the centre of Lost In Translation

Film It's the performances at the centre of Lost In Translation which make the film work so well. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, despite the generation gap and apparent differences in approach have very similar acting styles. It's a matter of economy. Moments throughout the film are carried wordlessly -- in places they simply sit and look at each other and we somehow know exactly what they're thinking about. Murray's been applying this technique to comedy for years -- again its all about his disdain for the situation he's been thrust into. Similarly Johansson, so perfectly understated in Girl with a Pearl Earing brings that same feeling here, but more relaxed and in a way it feels like a documentary, as though the two actors bounced off each other much as their characters do in the film.

The other strength is the sense of place created by Sofia Copolla and Lance Acord (who shot both of the Spike Jonze movies). Much like a contemporary Blade Runner the characters are dwarfed by the city, and its mass of humanity through which our heroes weave in and out. They make Tokyo an adventuress and hopeless place. The feeling of being in a city not your own is captured perfectly. Everything is loud, flashy and lacking depth in the city, more sedate and interesting in the countryside. Ironically it's within this alien prison that the characters are allowed some freedom to stray from the lives they committed to.

This is a great film. It's Murray's best since Groundhog Day (taking into account the groundbreaking elephant road movie Larger Than Life). Some have commented that it feels like a series of moments which don't hang together. But it seems deliberate -- life is like that, it doesn't flow from one beat to the next and it's refreshing to see a film make account of that. Put it this way -- I had to go to the loo in the middle and didn't mind missing a few minutes because I'd already decided to buy the DVD...

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