Summary: Lost in Translation’s strongest points are the gorgeous scenery and a fantastic glimpse of Japanese culture. The movie is a captivating experience that offers a unique relationship between two different people who are at different cross points in their lives. Together with their experiences and their fears they are able to reconcile their problems and show just how meaningful certain relationships can be. This is largely in part due to Murray and Johansson’s perfect on screen chemistry. Together they provide moments of wit, humor, worry, and wisdom for people to enjoy and connect with. The movie may seem off putting to some due to the age difference between the two main characters but if you can see past the surface and see what the two represent Lost in Translation becomes a deeper meaningful movie.
When the topic of favorite movie is brought up Lost in Translation is always my go to movie. The very first time I watched Lost in Translation I sat in awe as the credits rolled. I sat there and just let the movie sink in and allowed myself to thoroughly enjoy it. I not only watched it back to back but also subsequently watched it another six times throughout the weekend. Now that I’ve owned it in both DVD and Blu-ray I’ve probably seen this movie around ten times, making this the eleventh viewing.
I would say that the two things that make this movie so captivating is a combination of the setting and the wonderful music. The movie takes place in Tokyo, Japan. It follows the story of a washed up actor who travels to Tokyo to do whiskey commercials. His main objective is to get away from his routine life back home and just forget everything for a while. Along the way he meets a woman named Charlotte, a recent college graduate trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Eventually they end up having a fun night on the town that takes them across bars, arcades, and karaoke spots. It was nice to see the different culture on screen from the city life, to the nightlife, to the quiet resorts. It gives a nice little slice of Tokyo on screen.
The overall opening tone of the movie is extremely grey as both characters are introduced separately. They’re both experience the daily routine and are seemingly just going through the motions. It’s not until they start meeting and spending time together that you notice a gradual change of tone. It helps with one of the messages the movie deals with, “the unexpected connections we make that might not last, yet stay with us forever.” The quote comes from the back of the DVD case and I feel like it’s the best way to sum up this movie. They’re time together is short, a reality they both understand, but the escape for a few days is more than enough to revitalize their progression in life. It conveys just how fast life can come and go in a blink of an eye.
The movie borrows music from different artists that is wonderfully placed in the movie. The range of artists includes, Phoenix, Air, My Bloody Valentine, and so on. The timing of each song is perfect and really adds to a lot of the emotional moments in the movie.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve read about this movie is how the age difference between the two main characters makes the movie feel a bit strange. My counterpoint would be that the movie depicts a relationship that goes beyond the straightforward romance between Bob and Charlotte. To say that there isn’t some sense of romance would be a lie but it’s definitely downplayed for the overall message. Bob’s character is symbolic of life experience, where as Charlotte is fresh from college, still new to a plethora of possibilities that she has in front of her. She feels lost and relies on Bob to help ground herself. Although Bob has these nuggets of wisdom he feels stuck, and yearns for the young life of change, and different possibilities. He’s able to live vicariously through Charlotte who helps him find these new experiences. The fact that they’re in Tokyo really helps to make them feel alienated, both in a very unfamiliar surrounding where they can be whoever they choose to be. One of the neat things I’ve noticed about the movie is how they never formerly introduce themselves. I feel like this adds to my argument. It was never about who they are, and more so what they represent.
The movie has a nice blend of humor and seriousness that makes it an awesome feel good movie. Even moments where the movie may get a bit too tense either Bob or Charlotte provides effective and great comedic relief to help break up the melancholy mood. I love that they can change from silly behavior to seriousness and it never feels out of place.
Bill Murray’s portrayal of Bob Harris was perfectly casted for him, especially since Sofia Coppola wrote this script specifically for him. Murray’s smooth delivery and stoic body presences broadcasts the inner feelings of contempt and resentment for the routine he’s found himself in. He displays the stress in frustration going on in his mind without him having to say much. Of course, after meeting Charlotte the change in demeanor is done wonderfully and you can see the stress being lifted from his shoulders.
On the opposite end you have Scarlett Johansson’s take on Charlotte that captures the lost feeling of having different possibilities laid before her. She really shows the youth in her personality and her eagerness to explore and learn, but there is still the fragile sense of insecurity that comes with the fear of the unknown. Johansson offers the vulnerable feel to her character that makes it easy for viewers to connect.
On a personal note, it’s been about three years since I first saw this movie. Each time I’ve viewed it there’s always something different that sticks out to me. A line, or a moment that just seems to sink. There’s a lot to learn from this movie and the fact that you pick up on new things each time is what makes it such an easy movie to just pick up and watch over and over again.
Lost in Translation’s strongest points are the gorgeous scenery and a fantastic glimpse of Japanese culture. The movie is a captivating experience that offers a unique relationship between two different people who are at different cross points in their lives. Together with their experiences and their fears they are able to reconcile their problems and show just how meaningful certain relationships can be. This is largely in part due to Murray and Johansson’s perfect on screen chemistry. Together they provide moments of wit, humor, worry, and wisdom for people to enjoy and connect with. The movie may seem off putting to some due to the age difference between the two main characters but if you can see past the surface and see what the two represent Lost in Translation becomes a deeper meaningful movie.
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