Lost in Translation DVD: Review By justincase

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Well. Where to start...

I've read a review of the DVD by another reviewer on this site, Brian Roche, found here. I've read the reviews of the theatrical release of the film by Katherine Brodsky (found here) and by Derek May (found here). I've also felt the brutal force of the critical acclaim that has rained down on this film, culminating in both the film's and Bill Murray's recent wins at the Globes.

I must say that after anxiously anticipating the release of the film on DVD -- I find myself fairly let down. It is possible that too much praise steeped upon any film will, inevitably, result in the viewer's disappointment. You probably build your expectations too high...only to be let down (even if only slightly). This film is the prime example of that rule.

In the film, Sofia Coppola takes us to Tokyo to meet and empathize with her leads, Bob Harris (Murray) and Charlotte (Johansson). Bob is an aging American actor in town to schlep Suntory whiskey. Charlotte (Johansson) is the young wife of a vigorous photographer in town while her husband follows bands and other famous people. Charlotte is abandoned in Tokyo to find her own way, while Bob has clearly been here before and is returning yet again to do a deed that has not grown any less detestable since the last time. A celebrity in a foreign land, Bob is recognized but still remarkably alone. His family is geographically half a world away but emotionally, perhaps, even more distant. Charlotte is closer in proximity to her husband, but perhaps just as emotionally detached. Neither of them are sure -- from their different perspectives -- where they've gone wrong or how they've arrived at their present time and place. Both are seeking something -- not necessarily knowing what -- and find it, if only for a moment, in eachother.

Yes, the film is heavy and dramatic and colored with rich performances. It is also paced slowly and dramatically and is not something you'll want to start when you're suffering from the flu and you've just dosed up on Nyquil. Even without the medication, this thing could put you right to sleep.

If you want to seem sophisticated and somewhat elite -- talk about the complexities and the realism of the film. Talk about the pained performances of the emotional affiar (in the absence of the physical execution). Talk about how this art imitates life. Talk about how much of yourself you can see in the characters.

I'll call BULLSH*T!

I guess I feel like the characters in the film are, indeed, too much like those you find in real life. Too many of us have decided to stop taking part in our own lives -- only to wander from scene to scene without participating. Why is it that when marriages fail -- no one is to blame? Because we're all too damn willing to shrug off blame for our own sorry asses and try to come out smelling like a rose (even if only to ourselves). You want a couple of great lines?

"People grow apart"

"Love fades"

"We all change"

"No one is to blame"

I could go on...and on... and on... The bottom line is that Charlotte and Bob are both guilty of failing to take an active roll in their own lives -- and their relationships -- and then feeling sorry for themselves (and asking us, the audience, for our pity as well) for ending up in limbo.

Charlotte's husband is doing what he loves. He's taking in life and all it has to offer. He's following his star. Charlotte is lost... along for the ride and feeling depressed because she doesn't know what the hell she wants to do in life and she's found herself in a foreign land -- lost among the fascinating scenery. Bob is just as guilty of checking-out of his own life. He's an actor. He's paid to perform. He does what he's told and collects a check. He feels like he's been married for far too long and doesn't know why. How many of you wich you had a nickel for everytime you've heard that? Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm simply idealistic. But I believe that you either play a role in your life or you don't. If you don't, you wind up like our two leads in this film. Sadly, I think there are FAR too many people in our society that can relate. These two have created the openings in their own lives where the other can walk through - unimpeded by morality or guilt.

Bob has not only a wife, but kids that (presumably) love and respect him and he doesn't think enough of them to take the extra effort to stay involved and in love with his wife. Maybe his wife is guilty of the same (I'm not saying she's faultless -- we just don't know). Charlotte is looking for a father figure. Someone who can help guide her. Yes, she seems quietly intellectual and strong. She's just not. She's lost and misguided and searching for someone else to whom she can attach that might, even if only through their own gravitational pull, launch her in a direction other than the one in which she's currently traveling.

This is not a story of finding one's way. This is not a story of redemption. This is a story of sorry souls searching for comfort and pity and -- finding both -- return to their lives only to fly aimlessly along again until the next potential catastrophe.
There are some here (listed below):

* A conversation with director Sofia Coppola and actor Bill Murray

* "Lost on Location"

* behind-the-scenes featurette including exclusive footage shot by the filmmakers

* Deleted scenes

* "Matthew's Best Hit TV" - an extended version of the Japanese TV show

* Music video

* Trailers

I watched A conversation with director Sofia Coppola and actor Bill Murray. All I can say is "weird". They seem to have a really strange dynamic going on. It's not dissimilar to watching Charlotte and Bob onscreen... Anyone?

Basically, I don't care much for special features, but I'd have liked to see a full director's commentary track on this one. It may have even been wise to include Murray on the track. Coppola didn't do anyone a favor by leaving it off. Do we think, maybe...just maybe...it's because she really didn't know what the hell she was doing here? Has she landed this thing on the fast-track to critical acclaim purely by accident? She didn't do a commentary because she didn't want people to realize that she didn't know what the hell she was doing? Just because her dad has chops, doesn't mean she does, too. I've yet to see anything that truly proves it. You want to impress? Let's hear in the commentary why you did certain things. How you colored and textured this canvas.


Just as I suspected...
I didn't care for it.

It's too slow, too heavy handed and too full of self pity for me. The characters are looking for too much acceptance and understanding from the audience and I'm just not nice enough or sympathetic enough to give it to them.

All in all, my attitude about the characters make this thing just not worth my time.

Rent it.

If you feel like you can relate -- if you see yourself in these characters, even a little bit...you're a LOSER. Take some responsibility for your life. Get involved. Make a difference. Don't give up just because you feel like that path of least resistance you've been following has suddenly turned a little damp or steep. Keep climbing. You've got no one to blame but yourself for your current state.

Did I buy it? Yeah. Do I wish I hadn't? Yeah.

Will I make you a deal on it? Make me an offer.

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