Story by: Jack Foley
FRESH from its overwhelming success at the 60th Venice Film Festival,
Bill Murray's Lost In Translation opened in America at the weekend
(September 19), to almost universal acclaim.
The film is the second feature from writer-director, Sofia Coppola,
of The Virgin Suicides fame (yes, the one who was hopelessly miscast
in Godfather III), and is set in Tokyo, where two bored, melancholy
Americans - a fading movie star (Murray) shooting an ad for Suntory
whiskey, and a young, married woman (Scarlett Johansson) with
an ambitious, neglectful husband (Giovanni Ribisi) become
friends after meeting in a hotel bar.
They subsequently spend an adventure-filled week together taking
in the sights and getting to know each other.
The film was hailed as one of the best at this year's Venice
event, while the story behind it is equally incredible, as it
marks something of a labour of love for Coppola.
First of all, she has always wanted to make a film in Japan,
where she has spent lots of time, and features plenty of nods
to her own lifelong ambitions, such as being an aspiring photographer.
The casting of Murray was also no accident, as the part of the
movie star was written specifically with him in mind...
Coppola refused to make the movie without him, and recently told
GQ magazine that 'for six months', she called his voice mail every
day, turning into 'a complete freak'.
"All I would do is talk about Bill Murray," she added.
"My whole life revolved around stalking Bill Murray."
The result of her endeavours is a film which critics are hailing
as one of the best of the year, with Murray, quite possibly, in
the fray for an Oscar nomination.
Coppola, herself, described her reasons for making the film as
"I was just really drawn to a story about this guy having
a midlife crisis in Japan, where it's already so confusing."
The fanfare for Lost in Translation has been sounding out ever
since the film debuted to such acclaim at Venice.
Now that US critics have cast their views, however, we can only
wait in eager anticipation for it to land on UK shores.
Leading the way is the Chicago Sun-Times, whose critic
raved: "I loved this movie. I loved the way Coppola and her
actors negotiated the hazards of romance and comedy, taking what
little they needed and depending for the rest on the truth of
The Los Angeles Daily News felt it was 'as fine a look
at dislocation as you're ever going to see, and it has the nice
bonus of boasting Bill Murray's greatest performance'.
While Rolling Stone predicted that 'Bill Murray and Scarlett
Johansson give performances that will be talked about for years'.
Entertainment Weekly hailed it as an 'exquisite study
in emotional and geographical dislocation'.
While the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that 'although Translation
is only [Coppola's] second feature, she already shows signs of
being a sensei, as the Japanese call a master'.
Village Voice, meanwhile, stated that it is 'as bittersweet
a brief encounter as any in American movies since Richard Linklater's
equally romantic Before Sunrise'.
And Newsday found it to be 'remarkably sophisticated,
honest, consistently hilarious and very real'.
Variety felt that it 'displays perceptiveness and maturity,
coaxing an evocative sense of the sweet agony of unarticulated
sentiments', while the New York Post declared, simply,
that it is 'the fall's first essential movie'.
And the hits keep on coming....
The New York Times noted that it is 'one of the purest
and simplest examples ever of a director falling in love with
her star's gifts, adding that 'Mr Murray could collect the Academy
Award that he didn't get for Rushmore'.
While the Detroit Free Press stated that 'there is real
magic afoot in Lost in Translation - the sort that is created
not at the wave of a wizard's wand, but by the coming together
of two wayward souls'.
And the final word goes to the Philadelphia Inquirer,
which wrote that 'this picture moved me to tears three times.
There's a world of hurt under them there laughs'.