"Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool. And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died, if that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, I always smile, as if I’m not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn, and that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe I wouldn’t have named our son Elvis."
Coming off of the Avengers, I was inclined to reconsider some of Scarlett Johansson’s work. Where better to start than Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. In combination with Bill Murray this has to be one of the greatest love stories I’ve ever seen on film. With Japan as the backdrop, the movie carries multiple meanings of “Lost in Translation.” There is the obvious—Japanese to English and back—that exists mainly in the context of a whiskey endorsement gig, which was exquisitely executed in the Suntory Time commercial scene.
Then there is the more subtle meaning of the expression that serves as the real backbone all of the dialogue and the exchanges between Johansson and Bill Murray. The language of love is complicated. When you get the privilege to see it unfurl from the very beginning, there are elements of our younger selves that magically work their way to our expressions. The relationship starts very childishly and then we seem to work toward our older selves, with time, patience and understanding. The juvenile is easy to love at first, which is why that is where one often starts. With comfort, we start to work toward the real—the now. The old.
What captivates me about this movie is that we’re given the beginning, the relationship moves past the beginning, and then, we’re completely cut off from the rest of the journey. When the choice points in life occur, the characters have to decide for themselves. We don’t get to choose. As I watched this movie again, I remembered that the choice was right. Coppola nailed it. Despite what we might have hoped for, that connection, that bond was so strong—was so good, that nothing more could have made that relationship stronger. At least not in this chapter of their lives. We were cut off because we should have been cut off. Because that is what was right.
It’s a love story of the purest magnitude in an uncompromising package that involves humor and real life. Or life as they know it (which is the same thing). There is of course the final hug—and the whisper. It’s a scene so powerful that it rivals only one other in this regard.