IELTS: Talking Pictures. Describe a favourite film

16th March 2022

Zhang Zihi in the visually stunning film ‘Hero’
Exquisite cinematography in ‘Raise The Red Lantern’ with Gong Li

A typical IELTS question

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

The film I would choose is ‘Lost In Translation‘ starring Scarlett Johannsson

STRUCTURE:

Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately

Organised structure – one point per paragraph

A change of attitude – a critical view

Short conclusion

LOOK OUR FOR

Low-frequency words

Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.

Discourse markers – words to link ideas together

Adverbs and less common adjectives

So, without further ado, the question:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

First paragraph. Information about the film and the main characters.

The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.

Second paragraph. The plot: what happens and why.

Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.

Third paragraph. Develop the plot.

They meet in the hotel where, age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together, hook up. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.

Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.

Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be somewhat disappointed by this love story that never happens. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day. The film is quite melancholic as we are left to wonder what might have been.

Conclusion: A short summary.

‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming albeit bitter-sweet movie.

An iconic shot from the opening of the film

NOW … YOUR TURN

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION !

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