By Tobyn MaxwellBob Harris is a man lost in a culture completely alien to him. He is immediately likeable: a charismatic film star suffering a midlife crisis thousands of miles from home. Sofia Coppola’s film is filled with numerous funny, touching moments between Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), yet it is a scene barely three minutes long that sticks in the memory as the true crowning moment of this wonderful film. Bob Harris has travelled to Tokyo to make an advert for a high-class whiskey, the director of which speaks close to no English. The premise is simple: create comedy from the linguistic confusion between Harris, the director and their translator. It is an extremely simple scene. There are no fancy camera tricks, nor any music. In fact, if we stop and look at how the scene might read off the screenplay, there is not really any particularly funny dialogue. The majority of the scene is in Japanese but it is hilarious to watch, and this nearly all comes from the reaction shots of Murray. The scene starts with Murray enduring a barrage of Japanese from the zealous young director. The instructions, apparently, are simply to turn and look at the camera. Bemused at the simplicity of the instruction, he asks for clarification, provoking another flood of Japanese, this time between both the interpreter and director. Turn from the left and do it with intensity! Unfortunately, on paper, this does not sound terribly funny. But then, this is not Tarantino: it is Murray. He sits there, mystified, trying to prise out some more information; but the more he wants the less he gets. With a widening of the eyes here, a frown there and a stare of desperation everywhere, he has you in fits. Watching his face is akin to watching a Chaplin or Keaton film; he could do this scene without speaking and it would be just as good. As the director becomes ever more irate with Murray’s apparent time-wasting, the translator becomes increasingly useless and with a look of abject weakness Murray accepts the instructions to be ‘like an old friend and look at the camera’. It seems right to pause at this moment and point out that there is more than just Murray in this scene. Every action from Murray is a reaction to the two nameless Japanese characters that enhance the comedy with their increasingly lengthy Japanese discussions, and ever shorter English translations. By the time he receives his final instruction he has a look of weariness that belies the minutes he has spent on this advert, as he closes his eyes, nods and sighs. This action sums up a great theme of the story, that Murray’s character is weary of life. He is too old to be flying around the globe to appear on Japanese billboards, but there is nothing at home that provides any solace either. It is a reminder that this film is not a comedy; the culture clash seen here is used throughout the film in order to increase the sense of loneliness felt between Bob and Charlotte. Yet with this scene you can forget all that. It is a moment of comedy at its simple best and, for me, turns a great film into a classic.