Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson. Rated: R.
Feature Presentation: Bill Murray delivers one of his most understated and affecting performances
in director Sofia Coppola's second feature-length effort, the bittersweet comedy Lost in Translation. As Bob Harris,
an aging American actor stuck in Tokyo making a whiskey commercial, he's a world-weary traveler, far from home, who's tired
of his stale marriage, of endless photo shoots, of nights spent alone at the hotel bar. No wonder, then, he teams up with
young, vibrant Charlotte (Johansson), whose photographer husband seems consumed by his work, leaving her a sleep-deprived
stranger in a strange land.
Together, in a development that doesn't feel the least bit forced, the two forge an unlikely, understated
romance, with no ready-made Hollywood ending. That, of course, speaks to the subtle eloquence of Coppola's script, which offers
no pat solutions for its protagonists' malaise. But it's Murray and Johansson, conveying quiet desperation with a wry comic
touch, who make this Translation sparkle.
Bonus Materials: An extended clip of Murray's bizarre encounter with "the Johnny Carson of Japan"
-- imagine an unholy hybrid of Jerry Lewis and Austin Powers -- is very funny, and several deleted scenes work as pleasant,
if superfluous, diversions. More telling, though, is a conversation with Coppola and Murray, in which the 53-year-old veteran
of more than 30 films calls Translation the peak of his career. -- Rossiter Drake