Entry into this film can be a little difficult because nothing in particular ever happens, & a viewer has to get to know the characters before anything they feel or do has impact. Then, even knowing them, one may find them more than a little annoying.
It is also difficult because the director intentionally makes Japan itself a dull painful experience (which it would inevitably be to such dull painful people), & being shown how dull everything is does not make for an exciting movie.
But if the first half hour is a chore to watch, the final hour can potentially make up for it, as there are two solidly conveyed character-performances here. Two spoiled & privileged individuals are full of pointless angst, for both of them are smart enough to know there's something missing from the world they live in, but neither of them is smart enough or creative enough to find or provide the exceptions.
They can delight in nothing unless possibly their transient friendship & shared sense of dissatisfaction. They may or may not realize the world is unsatisfactory because they are each personally people of mediocre merits; they may or may not believe the world itself is the cause of their muted misery when in reality the limitations are strictly their own. All that matters within the context of the film is that they found each other across the gap of their differing generations, & with completely platonic affection for one another shared something subtle & significant which briefly negated their mutual ennui or misanthropy.
I am not totally convinced I was personally enriched to be so roundly reassured that privileged white people like Sofia Coppola & her filmic characters can & do wallow in misery without much cause. But it is almost always interesting to see Bill Murray act (acting funny is better, but he's good at this serious role too).
Scarlett Johansson surprisingly enough very nearly keeps apace of Bill as a performer, showing more ability than her pretty-face roles have previously permitted her to convey, though on another level her excessive prettiness lends a banality to her performance. Someone with stranger good looks would've been better, but part of the point of this character is she's dissatisfied with life even with the health, looks, youth, & success -- everything that is beginning to fade away from Bill Murray's aging character.
It's a surprisingly mature piece of pessimism to have generated from such a young author/director herself of a privileged class.
If the ultimate message here is money can't buy happiness, I would amend it to money can't cure miserable self-absorbed people of being a waste of their own breath. Give me some of that wealth & privilege & I'd over night be doing so much stuff that was useful & beneficial & creative & just plain fun. These rich bastards whining about their lives can't fool me into believing money can't buy a hell of a lot more happiness & peace of mind than does poverty.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl