E. A Solinas | MD USA | 12/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Attractive boy meets attractive girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl encounter obstacles. Boy and girl overcome obstacles, kiss in the rain, and live happily ever after in a chic apartment.
That's the formula of most romance movies. But those conventions were shattered in the hit movies "Lost in Translation" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." These movies share little in common, except an in-depth exploration about love.
In "Lost in Translation," aging star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is in Tokyo to film some TV commercials. He's bored with his life, has a stagnant marriage, and is weary of his job. As he hangs out at the hotel, he encounters Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson), an intelligent young woman who is accompanying her new husband on his photography job.
Joined by their feelings of ennui, and their alienation in a country not their own, Charlotte and Bob explore Tokyo and get to know each other. And as they commiserate on their loneliness, they must face the fact that their time together will soon end.
And in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," timid Joel (Jim Carrey) encounters his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) at her job... except she says she doesn't know him, and is with another man (Elijah Wood). Joel discovers that Clementine went under a new memory-erasing technique, which has completely removed Joel from her brain.
Devastated, Joel decides to get back at her: He'll have her erased by the same process. The Lacuna Inc. people arrive at his apartment, and begin erasing her from his mind -- but as he relives his memories with the exuberant, wacky Clem, Joel begins to realize how precious their love was, and how he doesn't want to lose it....
These two movies are unconventional romances -- one for being about two lonely people who bond in an unfamiliar country, and whose love never results in bed-bopping. And the other is unique for its painful realism -- Clem and Joel are not compatible, but they do love each other. Everyone knows a couple like this.
The direction and cinemateography for both films is absolutely exquisite, whether full of Tokyo's effervescent beauty, or the quiet peace of two people lying on an icy river, looking at the stars. The one stumbling block? The rather cliched portrayal of Japan in "Lost in Translation."
And fortunately, the actors do equally well. Bill Murray portrayed a quiet, weary man with understated humor, while Scarlett Johansson gave an excellent performance as a smart, bored young lady. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet both broke out of their typecasting -- he as a timid, shy man, and she as a blue-haired, exuberant free spirit.
Bittersweet love is in the middle of both of these beautiful movies, and make "Lost in Translation" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" intriguing films."