Lost in Translation (2003) *

A difficult film for me to assess objectively, since it seems to arouse strong feelings I cannot share, compelling me to defend it against those who dismiss is as hollow and pretentious (and still more so against those who criticisise it for its supposedly condescending cultural imperialism), but also to rein in those who find in it any great excess of profundity or emotional power.

The whiff of the emperor's new clothes hovered around it from the start, and it is perfectly true that it is a thing of attitudes and poses more than insight or meaning, and that its style is basically its heart. On the other, I'm not sure anybody involved in the making of it has ever claimed any different, there is certainly something to be said for style, and it is surely true that it does for all that have a very definite and unique atmosphere, one that no other film - including no other by its gifted and always worth bothering with writer-director - has ever quite duplicated. (See Somewhere to get a sense of how its apparent simplicity may be more skilful than you think.)
First time round it manages to compel without ever quite deceiving the viewer into thinking it ever intends going anywhere; subsequent viewings make it easier to enjoy the trappings, the two central performances (now rightly pantheonic) and the visual detail, freed from any hopes that it will surprise or change gear along the way.