catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Lost in Translation.


Feb 16 2005
12:43 am

“her face” was Scarlett Johanssen, although you’d have to check the spelling on the last name there. I think I’m close.

I made some comments on the film in last year’s asterisk awards issue, that may be what you’re thinking of. I have to say, the kiss didn’t bother me. It didn’t make any particular impression actually, as I’d completely forgotten about it. All I recall about the movie (prior to your post) was all that lovely, painful, poignant, wonderful, awkwardness. I certainly didn’t experience the ending as some kind of betrayal, or sell-out.

What exactly do you object to? The fact that the kiss was not “sexless”? That would be a worse cop-out from my perspective. It would deny both the painful and joyful reality of the fact that people are sexually attracted to one another. The fact they are married to other people? We’ve clearly seen that those relationships are not healthy and in real danger of failing. That doesn’t excuse the kiss from a moralist perspective, but this isn’t a morality play. These are real (from the film’s perspective) people struggling with really powerful feelings and temptations, and all of that is brought into focus by the heightened emotional moment of saying good-bye. The fact that the characters would allow themselves to express something of their attraction to one another in the relative “safeness” of that moment (i.e. they likely will never see one another again) doesn’t seem gratuitous to me. Again, I don’t remember the kiss specifically, but I do remember being satisfied with this film overall, not perhaps as an image of healthy, normative relationships, but of people doing their best to plod forward, burdened with the broken relationships, they, and to some extent all of us, have – and finding a little bit of genuine joy in one another’s companionship. The fact that they don’t (again, as far as I recall) dump their respective partners and run off to Kontiki or wherever together seems like enough of a victory to me within the limited scope of the story this very contemplative film is telling.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think there can be “sexual tension without any sex” as you put it. Sex is so much more than the act of copulation – it is relational, imaginative, playful, anticipatory… I think I simply understood the kiss to be a natural extension of the sexual tension, as opposed to a contradiction or resolution of it. It’s like the gospel says about thinking a certain way about another person being adultery. We’re all guilty, kiss or no kiss. Giving in to those feelings is, of course, a potent recipe for disaster, but so is denying them. I guess that that’s mostly what I took away from the movie.

Any of this make sense to you, Norb? Or am I missing your point? It’s delightful chatting with you, as always, regardless of whether we agree.