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Lost in Translation - Preview and US reaction



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 follows:

"I was just really drawn to a story about this guy having a midlife crisis in Japan, where it's already so confusing."

US reaction

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 characters."

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'.


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