While her acting career might have been dealt a fatal blow thanks to some lamentable work in the final part of her father's 'The Godfather' trilogy, Sofia Coppola seems to have a much brighter future as a director, if the utterly beguiling 'Lost in Translation' is anything to go by.
A wistful, dreamy, charmingly skewered affair, 'Lost in Translation' tells of the unlikely relationship between the Yale educated wife of a top photographer and a washed up Hollywood star, both of whom find themselves cut adrift in Tokyo. Murray is in exquisite form as the once popular actor Bob Harris, now only good for whiskey commercials in Asia. Completely unprepared for the cultural differences he encounters, Harris meanders around his hotel, confused as to what his paymasters actually want from him. On one of his frequent trips to the bar, the languid Harris encounters Charlotte (Johansson) whose husband (Ribisi) is all too busy doing a shoot for a record label. Not married long, young Charlotte finds herself drawn to the self-depreciation of Harris, and they spend the bones of a week together, exploring Tokyo's neon wilderness.
'Lost in Translation' may be as unconventional as love stories get, but there's an ethereal beauty at the heart of this movie. Tender and poignant, the film's central relationship echoes a rare truth about the nature of love, masked around of sense of desperate longing and vulnerability. Coppola has said that she wouldn't have made the picture had Murray had refused the role, and it's not hard to see why. One of those rare actors that can lift an entire film with a furtive glance, Murray is perfect as the world-weary Bob, whose gentle humour provides the anchor for the film's sweetness and honesty. Film of the year? Quite probably.