Monday, 18 October 2010

Lost In Translation

The Guardian and Observer publications are running supplements featuring their "Greatest Films of All Time" in various sub-categories of genre. Deciphering culture greatness is always a contentious subject of classification. I relish perusing these types of lists; to criticise, to agree, but most of all, to observe why we, as humans and devourers of arts and popular culture, love listing these things in the first place (and subsequently argue about it like it actually means anything).

I was intrigued to see one of my favourite films featured in the "Greatest Romance" section; Sofia Coppola's most beautiful and wonderfully underplayed Lost In Translation. I was curious, because as much as I love the film, it never even occurred to me to even class it into the 'romance' film genre.

Lost In Translation is a film that appears to divide many. It seems to leave many either completely cold, disinterested or feeling as if Sofia Coppola had snuck behind them and pick-pocketed their purses; or like a union of chords had been struck, and the director had sent Bill Murray & Scarlett Johansson around to their homes to touch their hearts personally. I am, obviously, firmly in the latter category. The film has such softness of focus, such subtle of performances, such minimal action, such musically touching soundtracks, that it makes me want to melt.

It was as if watching made my brain wires connect to a long-lost port to enable the motherboard to finally work.

Lost In Translation is a film that appears (to some) to have little plot, but in fact, there is a maelstrom-complex multitude of happenings beneath the seemingly mill-pond surface. The touching snippets of comedy mixed amongst the tragic sadness of reality are all too real - ok, we may not all be aging depressed movie stars stuck jet-lagged in a boring hotel in Japan, but we have all had feelings of solitude, of lack of direction; the sense life is happening elsewhere and we are unable to gain access into the greatest game of all.

It doesn't matter who we are, where we are, or what we are doing; ultimately, if we are not happy with who we are, we will feel lost and alone. And the crux of Lost In Translation, at least to me, seems to be one of the most inevitable aspects of existing - how life is made up of moments, events, snippets of time, where we can meet a person, connect, share a moment, maybe even touch someone's life...and yet never see that person again. Meetings and departures.

Wherever you go, you always have to leave.


Subversive Runner said...

Lost in Translation, an absolute masterpiece and a cracking soundtrack. Jesus and Mary Chain are perfectly placed. Your film review here is vastly superior to other professional efforts I've read.

TrefforestGump said...

Thanks so much!

I could honestly write an essay on the soundtrack alone. It's superb. One of the best ever. Perfect.

Sofia Coppola is a very talented director. The Virgin Suicides was an achingly good film, although the best part of that film is the Air soundtrack, which is up there with the best of the best too. For a debut, you can see the beginnings of something magical about to ignite.

Jose said...

I have to admit I love the film myself, the subtleties and nuances hint at deeper stories and I think you sum it up perfectly.

If you have a chance, In the Mood for Love (Kar Wai Wong) has a similar gentleness of feel and complexity of emotion, if slightly more 'romantically' orientated.