I spent the weekend as a mad party girl, flitting from one place to another. Somewhere in there, I managed to get time to see Lost in Translation, which I've been dying to see for just about however long it's been out. I was ready for high class, deep, moving, light-hearted fare; the last movie I saw in the theater was Freaky Friday and I was ready for a film not aimed at the Disney audience.
But, was I ready for Scarlett Johanssen in her underwear? High brow film this may be, and possibly the reason why I. Just. Didn't. Get. It., because I've spent too much time digesting mall movies and aforementioned Disney flicks. There are three characters in this film, along with their supporting props: Tokyo, and there's Scarlett in her almost see-through underwear and then there's Bill Murray with his whiskey. Bill plays Bob Harris, a famous movie star who is doing commercials for a Japanese whiskey company for ::gasp:: $2 million. Scarlett plays Charlotte, who has been married to John for two years, but acts like she just met the guy at the bus stop (in all fairness, Hubby flirts with Cameron Diaz look-alike in front of Charlotte).
Both of Bill and Charlotte's relationships are tenuous. Bob forgets his son's birthday, talks to his wife via fax (and the obligatory cell phone) and she sends over samples of carpet for his study. Charlotte mopes, sits around in her underwear a lot (at one point, I was screaming, "For God's sake, you're in Tokyo! Put on some pants and go out!). So our depressed and morose heroes meet up in (surprise) a bar and form some kind of connection, built of mutual detachment. If these people were any more out of it, they'd be orbiting the planet.
They bop around Tokyo, sometimes together, sometimes not, and they share long silences and meaningful conversations over alcohol and sushi; the pacing is unbelievably slow and yes, there are a few funny moments, but they are far and few between. You have to sit through a lot of oddness and weird scenes to get through to the good stuff, and meanwhile, you're still wondering about the prostitute who shows up at Bob's door asking him to "lick her stockings."
There are a few obligatory karoke scenes, a beautiful scene of a Buddhist temple (don't ask me the significance -- I have no idea), and lots of flashy, bright photography. In terms of acting, can't complain. Murray is great. Johanssen does a fairly good job as well. The problem was, I didn't like either of these characters, didn't feel a connection, and just wanted them go away.
The fact that the relationship remains platonic is a Very Good Thing (tm). Neither of these people knows what they want or how to get it; the crux of this movie is that these two people are perfect for each at this very moment. Not in the future, but now. It's an interesting idea -- not all relationships are meant to last forever, and all relationships have their sags, where people drift apart briefly and find someone/something else to get them through the rough time. I'm just not sure whether that requires two hours of film.