Ass Shot

The ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. My first reaction: groan of disgust. Why is this necessary. Why would a female director start her film this way. What does this have to do with anything. Why do I suddenly want to *shake* Sofia Coppola.


But now I think it may be beautiful. The film is very much about a girl having trouble growing up. She is a girl in a woman’s body. Her panties are little-girly-pink, yet see-through. Childlike and adult, at once. It’s not a thong. We see that she’s wearing a sweater. Not naked, not just a bra, but a sweater. And she stirs, moving one of her legs. A woman resting, not a woman displaying herself for you. Her back is turned to you. She is thinking, she is in her world, she is not for you.


So the shot is appropriate. It fits. The friend I saw the movie with didn’t like the choice of actress, she said she was too young, that she couldn’t nail the part, she didn’t have the complexity. That a 19-year-old playing a 25-year-old was a bad move. You usually go the other direction in casting. Get a 28-year-old to play a 25-year-old. But the point here is that this girl is in some way still stuck being a little girl. An older actress would bring maturity, but the role does not want maturity. Maturity would ruin it.


And this leads into the daddyism. Bill Murray is not just a charismatic guy, he’s a daddy figure. A guy who treats her like his little girl. Makes a big deal out of the boo-boo on her foot, takes her to the hospital. Grabs the menu and orders for her when she can’t figure out the sushi menu. Gives her life advice.


This is a movie written by a daddy’s girl. Not surprising that in an interview Sofia Coppola said that her father starred in a Santori whiskey ad in Japan.

2 Responses to “Ass Shot”

  1. Nate
    March 13th, 2004 | 3:39 pm

    Nice and insightful, on all points. I think you’ve got the butt shot just right, although admittedly many male viewers are responding to it more as cheesecake than Sofia probably intended. And as for the daddyism, I can’t be the only one that was surprised at Scarlett’s line after she catches Murray with the lounge singer, “At least she’s closer to your own age.” I really hadn’t seen what was happening between her and Murray as “romantic” in the traditional sense at all.

    I also agree about your earlier comment regarding humanizing the lounge singer, or any of the other characters, a bit more. Pretty much everyone in the movie other than Murray and Johanssen is really more of a prop than a character, designed to push the main pair one way or another. I think the two spouses are treated *least* generously in this way.

    Still loved the movie, though.

  2. cynthia rockwell
    March 14th, 2004 | 11:10 am

    yeah it was a good screenplay with a lot of emotional depth in some areas, but alot of shallowness in others. most of the characters were mere props, you’re right.