Frabjous Times

Lost in Translation (review)

We went to see the movie Lost in Translation. Why is it that nowhere I looked was I to find a note that this is not an adaptation of Nicole Mones's 1999 book Lost in Translation? That shouldn't put off anybody, however, at least not until the book is made into a movie of its own.
This is a film which has "awards nominee" written all over it, from the understated acting of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, to the phantasmagorial cinematography of Tokyo and, briefly, Kyoto, to the scriptwriting and directing of Sofia Coppola. She achieves a blend of humor and pathos exquisitely balanced, like a Japanese pickle both sour and salty, and hints at the characters' depths with light touches of dialogue here or gesture there. It's the kind of thing which I think gets better if you watch it more than once, and I'm looking forward to the DVD edition where I hope to be spoiled with all sorts of extras.
I wonder how it will play in Japan when it is distributed there. But this mostly-disembodied Tokyo is not supposed to be the real-life Tokyo any more than Chinatown was Chinatown or Nashville was Nashville. The art is in the selection and hightening of impressions.
Originally published: 2003/09/22 07:29:44