Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Lost In Translation

One of my favorite writers online, Jeff, at Notes on the Atrocities, is currently holding his very own film fest. He's got way more sophisticated and elegant analyses than me so please visit him and enjoy his series.

To say that I actually saw a recent movie, albeit on DVD, is quite a personal triumph for this mom. I just seem to have a lot going on in the evening time, such as catching up on the bookclub selection, participating in PTA related stuff and oops forgot about the blogging thing, that watching a movie has been an extremely low priority.

(Warning: The following reveals a bit of character development).The little hype that I heard through the grapevine about this movie was that it was a Bill Murray vehicle. But having been forewarned that it was not the typical comedy, I was shocked to find out how ambiguous this movie was. While it's superficially about a 'love story' between two Americans stuck in Japan, my sense of it was that it was a very personal movie exploring father-daughter issues. Color my perception Freudian but yes, it was a love story sliding closer to that more forbidden theme. This underlying tension makes it both fascinating as well as uncomfortable to watch. The character Murray played seemed more paternal to me than anything romantic. And while sexual tension existed between the two, it was across so many formal boundaries, that it was a stretch for the two to even connect in the vacuum created by being in Japan. I haven't read any PR material by the director, although I would be curious to find out if she addresses this. I would imagine not.

Adding to that discomfort is the disjointed feeling of being in a foreign country. It was a wise decision to not employ subtitles. It helped to further enhance a sense of isolation, defined by the linguistic island that the couple lived within, bu it also made this movie more poignant.

As for the acting, I'm certainly not the sophisticated movie watcher but as a fan of Murray, I thought he brought surprising maturity to his character. Still a bit of the smart-alecky guy, he also brought a more jaded, more sophisticated, and a wiser sensibility to his role. My sense is that the female lead was the true center of the film, which is why I gravitate towards a personal explanation for Coppola's film. As for that father-daughter tension, I'm wondering if it's more about her relationship with her dad, not so much the incest angle, but the role he's played in her life, especially with her career.

Since I haven't seen any other film recently, I definitely have no comment on the annual awards aspect. The husband snored through most of it but I enjoyed the ambiguities in the characters as well as whole sense of being unmoored and afloat in a foreign world. Your comments appreciated. Feel free to disagree.