Studio: Focus (released Sept. 12)
Storyline: Two Americans in Tokyo, a movie star shooting a whiskey commercial (Bill Murray) and a recent college grad (Scarlett Johansson) tagging along with her photographer husband, meet at a hotel, find they both suffer from insomnia and existential angst and become unlikely friends.
About the script: With sparse dialogue and a willingness to let silence, gesture and Tokyo’s idiosyncratic details tell the story, Coppola has written an unexpectedly moving script about two people who pass through each other’s lives, altering them along the way. “I was interested in this guy Bob Harris having a midlife crisis,” Coppola says. “It’s sort of similar to what I experienced in my early 20s and out of college and not sure what to do. I wanted to do something romantic between these two characters that was really intimate.”
Biggest challenge: “It was scary to write from scratch. The only script I wrote before was adapted and there’s a comfort in having something to refer to. When you’re writing something personal, you don’t know if you’re being indulgent. That’s scary, not to have anything to base it on that you know people will respond to.”
Breakthrough idea: “I can’t remember one point where the project came together. I had an idea of the beginning and the ending and just sort of found the rest as I was writing. I went back to Japan when I was working on the script and hung out at the hotel and wandered around and looked at things, and I would write things into the script that were happening, like I broke my toe so I added that to the story.”
Favorite scene: “I love when he sings ‘More Than This’ to her, but that wasn’t even in the script. When I was writing the script, the first thing I pictured was Bill sitting on the hotel bed with the little kimono on, so seeing that on film was really exciting.”
Lines we love: Bob talking about having children: “They turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”
Writer’s bio: As Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter, Coppola began her cinematic career playing the baby in the baptism scene in “The Godfather.” After acting in a handful of roles and doing costume design for two features, she directed a short film, “Lick the Star,” followed by adapting and directing “The Virgin Suicides” in 1999.