LiT Discussions

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LiT Discussions

#1 Post by 52FM » Mon Jul 11, 2005 3:41 pm

There has been a lot of discussion on important points of LiT and I’m going to try not to revisit those (like the whisper, or friends vs lovers, or why people connected to this movie so strongly.

But there are a couple of points I have not seen discussed here (I read through most threads but not post by post, so maybe I’ve missed them.) Things I find interesting –

Lydia: is she responsible for Bob’s dissatisfaction?

Sofia: was this “slice of life” style purely intentional? That is, were we really not supposed to know much about the background of the characters? It seemed we were eavesdropping on their conversations and only knew what those conversations conveyed.

Bob/Charlotte: do you think there were times spent together and thoughts/conversations shared that just weren’t scenes in the film. Or did we pretty much see everything that went on?

Intergenerational connections: Toughest one maybe. I know most of the frequent posters on this board are male. Most of them are quite young. I am a 50 something married male; you can look up my posts here and on IMDb if you’re curious about where this question is coming from. Anyway – how would you feel if you knew your (father/uncle/husband/friend – whatever fits your age group) told you about his amazingly significant connection with a woman 25 or more years younger than him? Happy for him? Upset? Sympathetic? Likewise – how about if a friend/sister/aunt/daughter had a “Charlotte” experience with a man 25+ years older?

It’s been nearly four months since I saw LiT; that is, the last hour of it. I still don’t want to see it again for fear of getting that “kicked in the stomach” feeling again, now that I am over it finally. But certain aspects of this movie continue to intrigue me. I’m both curious to get other’s opinions on these things and also would like to see if we can get this board a bit more active again.

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#2 Post by jml98 » Mon Jul 11, 2005 4:59 pm

interesting...especially the Bob/Charlotte question...don't have an answer yet...
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#3 Post by Silver » Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:59 pm

Re: Bob/Charlotte

There had to have been discussions between the two of them that weren't viewed onscreen.

They still were at the bar, after toasting to each other's futures(the Philosophy degree/his Porsche - kampei!) The hotel room numbers for each as an example. Did they ever discuss how old his children were?

I still contend that his whisper to her at the end was "Promise me the minute he makes you feel that you're not special, you cry if you have to and tell him the truth, okay?" Charlotte had to have poured out her heart to him for him to have given her that advice and reassurance for the future, being the voice of experience that he was with his counsel.

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#4 Post by 52FM » Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:43 pm

Thanks for the comments so far. I'll add mine as soon as there are a few more. Silver - your assessment of the final scene is the one I like to think of. More shameless self-admission, but it bears some similarity to what I said to the "Charlotte" in my situation. Which could have been great if I just left it at that. After all these years, I recently found out that my wife agrees with me for the most part. Which gets me closer to the closure I've been trying to get.

Any thoughts about Lydia?

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#5 Post by Suntory » Tue Jul 12, 2005 12:03 am

52FM wrote: Any thoughts about Lydia?
A successful marriage should always be 50/50 two people working at it together.
If it's not then you have either divorce or what apparently Bob
and Lydia have.
We only get a little taste of their relationship, we can make assumptions
but we really don't know what their everyday life together is like.

However it seems from what Bob says, he is not satisfied but he
(and she) lives with it because of the kids and sometimes people just carry
on with inertia not wanting to make upheaval type changes.

to 52fm

#6 Post by to 52fm » Tue Jul 12, 2005 2:14 am

My advice to you is to read the script as it seems to answer some of your questions. Yet you might be left even more intrigued afterwards...

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#7 Post by 52FM » Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:25 am

I've read the script. The minimiist dialogue os what intrigues me. I have some points that connects my questions - just interested in getting other people's opinions first (and see also if we can get some lurkers to get back to posting.)

Suntory - I disagree about Bob and Lydia and I'll probably post my thoughts about that later today. Keep in mind my thoughts come from someone who has been married 25+ years and has been through (and still going through) Bob/Lydia's situation.

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#8 Post by Congruous » Tue Jul 12, 2005 1:06 pm

Lydia: is she responsible for Bob’s dissatisfaction? No, she didn't come across as being a great wife, but Bob made it clear that she was a good mother; maybe more interested in mothering than nurturing a marriage. Apparently their marriage cooled when the kids came. Bob could be as reponsible for this cooling as Lydia.

Sofia: was this “slice of life” style purely intentional? That is, were we really not supposed to know much about the background of the characters? Often a movie or book takes a lot of trouble to inform the viewer/reader of the requisite background. This one doesn't. This situation drops out of the sky.

Bob/Charlotte: do you think there were times spent together and thoughts/conversations shared that just weren’t scenes in the film. Or did we pretty much see everything that went on? I believe we saw pretty much everything that happened between the two characters.

Intergenerational connections: Toughest one maybe. Anyway – how would you feel if you knew your (father/uncle/husband/friend – whatever fits your age group) told you about his amazingly significant connection with a woman 25 or more years younger than him? Happy for him? Upset? Sympathetic? Likewise – how about if a friend/sister/aunt/daughter had a “Charlotte” experience with a man 25+ years older? The big age difference wouldn't work. It's only interesting here because Coppola has given us this slice of life scenario, so we can view it as an event isolated from the normal life these two individuals lead.

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#9 Post by sw25 » Tue Jul 12, 2005 2:53 pm

Hey moviefan. I'll give it a crack.

I don't think Lydia was any more responsible for Bob's dissatisfaction as he was himself. It's a little hard to piece together from the information we are given, but I think that, as Bob said, he had grown slightly useless in her life.

Perhaps it was her fault that she didn't treat him like he was more necessary, but I can't imagine Bob giving much effort to make things work. He seemed to be wearily acceptant of where he was in life, and Lydia sort of went along with the current. I could be wrong, but it seemed like a mutual "fall-out" between the two. I think Bob had his real interest in Charlotte simply because she was interested in him, and vice-versa. They both felt necessary again.

The slice-of-life thing was definitely intentional, and well-done. It makes you think that this kind of trip has probably happened to Bob dozens of times, and it's exciting to see his business-as-usual circumstances get turned on their head.

There were probably a few trivial conversations or moments left out in their experiences together, but we see the meat of their time together. We could've seen the rest of their "worst lunch ever", but the bit we saw was plenty. I love Bob's snide comment, and the way Charlotte looks afterwards.

I love this movie because it's one of small details-- I love how Charlotte holds the menu, and Bob has to pry it out of her hands. It reminds you that she still is young, snobby, and slightly immature.

The last question is the hardest. The age gap is a double-edged sword, certainly. While it can probably be exciting talking to someone so different than yourself, it might also be perilous for the obvious reasons.

I know that if a friend of mine told me she had such a relationship with an older man, I would have to be cautious. As we men can attest, our gender doesn't always choose from the heart, and I would be nervous that perhaps my friend was being taken advantage of.

Good questions, moviefan.

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#10 Post by 52FM » Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:57 pm

"I think Bob had his real interest in Charlotte simply because she was interested in him, and vice-versa. They both felt necessary again."

Are you sure you're only 16?

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#11 Post by sw25 » Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:40 pm

Ha ha, yeah, last I checked.

to 52fm

#12 Post by to 52fm » Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:26 am

No, we do not know everything they talked about I'm sure. Normally one doesn't trust people sitting by in a bar that much after the first few drinks. I believe they had more discussions about general things like politics, religion,etc and found so much in common that it struck them. After that they sort of looked at each other with surprise and that's how the whole thing started. I'm sure it coulldn't be elsewise.

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#13 Post by Silver » Wed Jul 13, 2005 7:36 am

There is something onscreen during the last bar shot. While "So into You" is playing, you can see Bob mouth "I don't care." It is before he takes Charlotte's hand and says, "I don't want to leave."

What is it that he doesn't care about?

Could it be that he may feel that he doesn't want to return to Lydia? He's been emotionally hurt and he's had enough of the marriage? I don't think so.. If that was the case, then he would gladly toss aside the twenty-five years ... but no, he does return to Lydia and the children with a renewed sense of marriage and the ability perhaps to talk things out.

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#14 Post by 52FM » Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:23 am

Some of my thoughts - quickly. I don't have much time this morning.

First - sw25; your observation is astounding to me for someone your age. There are people twice your age or more that see their relationship as soulmates and worth Bob throwing away 25 years and his kids to live forever with her. Your simple statement (they both felt necessary again) sums up the problem in their marriages and why they felt connected.

That doesn't imply the connection was not deep - given the time they were able to spend together with no real life distractions, they probably were able to get to know each other faster than normal (hence my question on did they spens time together that we didn't see.) And I suspect there can be a real bond established - but more so because they allowed themselves to lose their defenses gradually. Example from Silver - Bob saying he didn't want to leave; holding her hand (a relatively forward move under the circumstances I think); someone pointed out that Charlotte took his hand in the same manner as the couple in the wedding ceremony she saw.)

Bob and Lydia: that one will take longer for me. I think Bob at some point realized the advice he would give or did give Charlotte applied to him as well. I don't remember who posted their thought on the whisper saying in effect - if he makes you feel that way again - tell him. (edit: Silver, it was you. I didn't realize it was in this thread.) That applied to Bob/Lydia also. Guess who else recently realized it applied to him also.

More later...

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#15 Post by Guest » Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:05 pm

I'm not sure about Bob's feelings for Charlotte being all that chaste. The scene in the elevator after the fire alarm for instance. Bob nods twice at her trying to get her to come to his room. I think she doesn't because of his tryst with the singer, otherwise they might have started a full-blown affair right then.

Another thing that continues to intrigue me is the scene at the beginning where Bob sees his billboard on the ride in. There is a school of thought, and I happen to think it's a valid one, that Bob is coming back to hook up with Charlotte and then the film becomes a flashback.

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#16 Post by sooner77 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:07 pm

Sorry, forgot to log in.

I'm not sure about Bob's feelings for Charlotte being all that chaste. The scene in the elevator after the fire alarm for instance. Bob nods twice at her trying to get her to come to his room. I think she doesn't because of his tryst with the singer, otherwise they might have started a full-blown affair right then.

Another thing that continues to intrigue me is the scene at the beginning where Bob sees his billboard on the ride in. There is a school of thought, and I happen to think it's a valid one, that Bob is coming back to hook up with Charlotte and then the film becomes a flashback.

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#17 Post by You Make it Easy » Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:30 pm

I dont think he was trying to get Charlotte to come to his room. He doesnt do a "come with me" nod. Its way to sligh. Their friendship is open and there wouldnt be a reason for him to not say what he really wanted to do.

Coming back to hookup with charlotte......Who says she is even there. I doubt he would get to the airport then decide to suddenly turn around and go back to Charlotte.
Waiting to be found...

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#18 Post by 52FM » Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:10 pm

I suspect the opening scene is a "continuity error". If it's to set the movie as a flashback, it's way too subtle.

The nods in the elevator are intiguing. I personally doubt they were an invitation back to the room for anything physical - the script doesn't include them but makes a point of the awkward kiss. The nods were probably ad-libbed by Bill - and who knows what he had in mind? At the least, I don't think he wanted the night to end - since it was their last together.

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Bob and Lydia

#19 Post by 52FM » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:32 pm

Another really long post -

I have a greater appreciation for LiT whenever I think of it (which has obviously been a lot).

Much of what I appreciate are the things so many people criticize it for. Characters aren’t developed, dialogue is sparse, “nothing happens”. I understand why so many people dislike it, but I do.

Slice of life – I never heard that term referring to films until I read so many reviews of LiT. Obviously, this was intentional. That, along with the minimal dialogue, is very contrary to how we’re conditioned to watch a movie.

I’ve read a lot of people assume Lydia is one of the “bad guys” just like John is. One female reviewer was upset that Lydia would be thought of as a “bad guy”, even though nothing directly paints her that way. It’s just that we are conditioned to thinking the lead is the hero and if he has marriage issues, it must be someone’s fault. Not Bob – he’s deep; he’s thinking about it. All Lydia cares about are carpet samples.

But that is not (necessarily) true in my opinion (and others). Sofia intentionally refuses to give us the answer. We essentially only know what Charlotte knows. I don’t get the impression Bob says much if anything to Charlotte about her other than what we see him saying, and very possibly he (off-screen) relays some of the phone calls / faxes / packages. (Same with Charlotte / John.) After all, they are only together four days (I think) and a lot of that is apart.

After 25 years, it’s very unlikely (in my opinion) for Bob/Lydia to be as in-sync as the day they were married without a lot of work. Children – as wonderful as they are (and believe me, mine are exceptionally special to me) can easily create a situation where over many years the couple is farther apart than they realize. Lydia found a comfort zone; Bob – being less involved at home? – probably lost his.

I know Bob said they saw a counselor who established they don’t communicate. I think that was just his sarcastic shortcut to saying it didn’t help. Good that they sought counseling, but it only works if they both try. It’s not clear either is trying.

One review I read had a male/female going back and forth. The female thought Lydia was being portrayed as shallow (carpet samples) and Charlotte as deep. The male thought the carpet samples represented real life things that need to be dealt with, vs Charlotte’s concerns representing a need to grow more. (She hadn’t really found anything important to her yet.)

Which brings me back to Sofia’s style in this film. I love the dialogue more every time I think of something. Very real life – very “un-movie” like. At first, I was annoyed with Bob telling Charlotte “you’re not hopeless”. I thought: c’mon – I can think of a lot of things better to say than that. But I realize in real life you don’t get a chance to think of the perfect line. “You’re not hopeless” is probably the type of “safe” thing you might say if you are 53 years old and find yourself laying in bed – very tired but suffering insomnia – with a 20-something girl – that you know you will not make any type of romantic/sexual advance towards.

The sexual tension was brilliant – again playing to the audience conditioning. I’m sure nearly everyone “expected” them to have sex somewhere. That’s the scene most people probably expected it. Sofia almost was saying to us “shame on you – he’s 53, she’s 23 or whatever – he cares for her way too much to a) force her to say no, b) have her say yes and regret it, or c) have her say yes and deal with not regretting it.”

The whisper – I know, I said I wasn’t going to talk about it. But it’s again a brilliant piece of “dialogue” giving Bob a chance to think of the right thing to say (after the awkward goodbye) but not letting it be a convenient wrap up. Silver – you apparently are right in what Bill Murray said on that particular take (on this board people actually applied some sound filtering devices to determine that.). Yes – it’s supposed to be left up to us, but one thing is important. Scarlet said in interviews that Bill said “lots of things” (many takes presumably) and she was “a wreck”. So it seems that Bill/Scarlet felt that was what Charlotte wanted to hear to make her content. Not “I love you” or “if it doesn’t work, here’s my number”.

Bob got in the limo and said OK. I think the last line of dialogue? Anyway – it really said it all. The script said “Bob was glad he came to Tokyo and he was glad to be going home”. “OK” – not just “drive on” but “I’m ready to move on”; “I’m OK now”.

Not to sound corny (though it is), but when I had my “epiphany” – in my thread in the lounge – I found myself saying that line to myself.

It's been great talking to everyone on this board and IMDb, but it is time to take a break from it for a while. I know I will be back, and probably sooner rather than later. But for now I think I need to leave this behind for a while.


OK.

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#20 Post by sw25 » Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:22 am

Understandable, moviefan. For you more than anyone else, LiT can probably be an exhausting experience.

I have a feeling we'll talk again, but if not-- thanks for the laughs, the witty banter, the advice, etc. I'm glad to have met you.

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