4 Stars

Lost in Translation is a beautifully shot film that captures the anxiety and sadness of two individuals that feel lost and without purpose in a foreign country. The Japanese scenery is breathtaking and the soundtrack, at times, hypnotic. Sophia Coppola establishes amazing mood as the backdrop to the plot.

Bill Murray does an excellent job in this film. He plays Bob Harris, a sad and sweet over-the-hill actor in Tokyo to shoot a series of commercials and print ads for Suntory Whisky. Bob does not know the Japanese culture or language and feels a bit disoriented. Sadly, he is also disoriented because he is away from his kids and the relationship with his wife is deteriorating, as evidenced in some very cold phone calls back home. He can’t sleep.

Bob meets Charlotte in the hotel bar, a young Yale graduate tagging along with her workaholic photographer husband who is on assignment. Charlotte is trying to find a sense of purpose in her life, and her lack of purpose is only amplified by Japan’s strange surroundings. Scarlett Johansson does an amazing job as Charlotte, portraying a young woman in crisis trying to find herself. She can’t sleep either. Bob and Charlotte find each other in this hotel in the middle of bustling Tokyo and share an immediate connection.


Their relationship is never overstated and very subtle, much like everything else in the film. In the end, both Bob and Charlotte know that a relationship built in the artificial world they are in would never survive the harsh scrutiny of the real world. It is the prespective of both characters that are also lost in translation, as they struggle to rationalize their relationship.

This film is about mood. Facial expressions are sustained and there are long moments of silence. Bustling streets and neon signs are juxtaposed against moody music and sounds. Sophia Coppola has a master photographer’s touch in framing almost every scene. The audience feels like it’s there, discretely observing and slowly discovering the characters, sometimes in silence.

I liked this movie. I liked that at the end, Bob and Charlotte didn’t resolve their problems, but both felt better about their lives. I liked that at the end, Bob whispers words of wisdom into Charlotte’s ear that we are not allowed to hear. I liked the mood and the dialogue, even if some of it was lost in translation.

1 Comment »

  1. The movie is funny and touching I enjoyed it a lot.

    #1 by Brian — October 15, 2004 @ 12:36 pm

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