subject, screenplay, direction:
Elemental Films, American Zoetrope, Tohokashinsha Film Company
Italian dialogues and dubbing direction:
I ask myself: how come every now and then Bill Murray agrees to work on boring films? And yet in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" he was exceptional. This film wasn’t a good experience - let’s try and understand why.
When you find yourself in a foreign country, in which you don’t understand the language and you refuse to make yourself understood, even through gestures, then you could find yourself feeling incredibly lonely. So you get closer to the only person you can communicate with and a deep relationship could begin.
Bob, a mature actor, arrives in Japan to film some commercials; he meets an American lady, Charlotte, a photographer’s wife, in Japan accompanying her husband. They’re both depressed – from the beginning of the film – and, in a world which feels distant to them both, also because they have huge communication problems, they gain mutual strength from each other.
They get closer because neither of them sleep, they’re bored with the people around them (the silly actress, the two businessmen whom Bob more or less in an elegant manner sends away) and they find comfort in each other, establishing a very intense friendship.
The dialogues are necessarily reduced: the Japanese who speak our language – English in the original, Italian in the dubbed version – are few, and their sentences are brief, suitable to the occasion. Therefore, for the entire film (and maybe it’s here that the talent of the actors is evident), we have to concentrate on the expressions of the two actors in order to understand their moods, their thoughts, their loneliness.
Unfortunately I didn’t find one sentence, nice or not, worthy of mention; the dialogues appeared dull to me, too full of «ok», said continuously and regardless of the necessity as though neither of them was capable of expressing himself with the other. Their embarrassment and the “coldness” of the relationship between Bob and his wife could have been expressed in another way.
And yet we get to know that Charlotte has a degree in philosophy, so we would have expected, at the very least, an elaboration capacity of the mind. And Bob? He doesn’t give the idea of being such a spiritually poor man; perhaps his character deserved to be better expressed with more accuracy in the choice of terms and expressions.
What a lovely feeling when we understand that Bob is saying his final words before leaving and returning home and we gather that the film is finished! And what a surprise to hear him say “that’s fine” instead of the usual «ok»! Maybe the dialogist realised he had exaggerated a bit?
What left me perplexed is finding out that the dialogist and the dubbing director are the same person: because the dubbers, despite the scarce quality of the written material available to them, have done a good job. And so my evaluation, necessarily honest, has to render justice to what has been done fairly well, and to what, always in my opinion, could have been done better, even if done by the same person.
Lastly: why use a sub-title "L'amore tradotto"? It’s not the literal translation, it’s not relevant to the story and consequently I don’t understand the necessity. But I don’t think this can be blamed on the dialogist.
[original review in Italian by Vittoria Alessi]