In 'Lost in Translation'

By Ken Tucker
Updated December 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Bill Murray gives one of the year’s Great Performances

The midlife crisis has never been portrayed with the poignancy, humor, and subtlety that Bill Murray brings to this unsettled state in Lost in Translation. He plays Bob, an American emotionally adrift in Japan — an actor selling out his fading fame to make some fast bucks doing a commercial. His marriage is at that wobbly stage (familiar, boring, yet a comforting link to reality). As he puts it to Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte, an equally bored, at-loose-ends young woman he meets in a hotel bar: ”It gets a whole lot more complicated when you have kids.” Murray’s character is no cad; he’s looking to connect with another human without any show-business calculation. That need gives his scenes with Johansson a tender lilt, and his performance is a marvel: He trusts director Sofia Coppola to capture every upturn of his mouth, every eyebrow twitch, every fleeting twinkle in his eyes, to convey a complex man tempted, tested, and pushed to his limit. Lost in translation? Found in ambivalence.

Lost in Translation

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