Lost In Translation

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Nicky Falkof

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Lost In Translation
Lost In Translation

Like the film, this DVD is slightly whimsical and slightly haphazard. Unlike the film, though, it's also slightly unsatisfying.

The first of the featurettes is a mini documentary called Lost On Location. Given that this is partly filmed by director Sofia Coppola's then-husband Spike Jonze, one would expect quite a lot from it. One would be wrong.

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At half an hour, this is at least 10-minutes too long. The rough, loose camera style, guerrilla though it may be, becomes annoying on the eye after a while. The entire segment fails to get to grips with its material at any level other than the superficial. Rather than teaching the viewer anything about the process of making a film in a completely different culture, it skims the surface and relies instead on cuteness and cultural jokes (listen to the weird Japanese man talk!) to keep the momentum going. There are a few tantalising moments. The entire crew is thrown out of the restaurant where they're filming, which would have made amazing viewing, instead, though, we hear them discussing it afterwards.

Bill Murray comes across as you would expect, jocular, jokey, friendly, likeable, while Coppola's excitement before he arrives is nothing short of touching. She is sulky and slightly truculent and what little we see of her directing sheds no light on the creation of this fine film.

Scarlett Johansson is notable by her absence. We see her in passing, looking lovely, as her hair, or make up, is fixed, or wandering down Tokyo streets, but she never actually speaks to the camera. One wonders why there is such a vast disparity between the documentary's engagement with her and with Murray.

Next up is Matthew's Best Hit TV. If the high-decibel, high-energy talk show that Murray appears in as Bob in the film did not amuse you, then avoid this. It's more of the same, some screeching, some EuroJap weirdness and a dash of hysteria. Murray acquits himself admirably, again, and his face during the eel "surprise" has to be seen to be believed.

A mediocre music video is next. The song itself, City Girl, is hardly inspiring enough to merit better. More entertaining are the deleted scenes, with yet more of Murray's trademark eccentricity being displayed. Best among these is undoubtedly Kelly's Press Conference, which provides another opportunity to gawk at the perfectly pitched comic marvel that is Anna Faris's bimbo actress.

The Conversation featurette sees Murray, now with his Steve Zissou white hair and beard, and Coppola perched on a balcony high above ground level. What comes across is how careful Murray, the actor, is, how delicately he engages with his characters and their emotional motivations. It's an interesting viewpoint on a performer we've been watching for years and think we know everything about. This segment, too, marks how Johansson has been sidelined by the DVD package. One wonders if the obvious bond between director and leading man didn't somehow exclude the young actress. But, as the film depends on her sense of isolation, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

With a writer/director as carefully aesthetic as Coppola and an actor as amusing as Murray, it seems something of an oversight to have not included a commentary in this package. Like most exquisitely fragile things, perhaps Lost In Translation is best not examined that closely.

Reviewed on: 11 Feb 2006
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Lost In Translation packshot
Two lonely American tourists in Tokyo find solace in each other.
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Angus Wolfe Murray: DVD

Product Code: MP319D

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85 Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Lost On Location; Matthew's Best Hit TV; music video; deleted scenes; A Conversation with Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola; trailer

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