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Lost in Translation

2003 comedy-drama film

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Aren't We All?

  • Feb 4, 2004
  • by
I would think that this sort of film would play better on a large screen in a darkened theatre, where the viewer is actually immersed in the images---the flicker of the neon, the passage of the overhead trains---and simultaneously senses that feeling of being lost in the largeness of a cityscape inhabited by so many bodies without any point of reference. Although, the film takes advantage of the two leads' feelings of disassociation with regard to a seemingly foreign environment, the feeling evoked here by director Sofia Coppala is one all of us has sadly experienced one time or another.

Indeed, it is this feeling that drives the small plot: a 50+ actor being paid millions to endorse a Scotch to the Japanese public ponders his aloneness and the meaninglessness of his existence during a whirl of publicity shots, advertizing takes and sojourns to the hotel bar. At the same time, a 25 year old wife accompanies her photographer husband and stays at the same hotel where she contemplates being stuck in the irrevalent aftermath of someone else's existence. The two characters, both lost and unable to translate what they see around them into any meaningful frame of reference for themselves, turn towards each other, finding solace in their ability to see that they are at the same point of self-discovery within their own lives.

Moody and dreary at times, despite the lack of action, the movie does convey that sense of being lost in a world that moves pretty much at light-speed momentum. Tokyo may stand as the backdrop, but I think Coppola focuses on the world of hype and media in general-a world that conjurs up a pace of its own where human components are mere adjuncts rather than the driving force. The two main characters question the relevance of such a world and revel in their discovery that together they find, at least for a moment, some translation relevant to their lives which actually causes emotion rather than simply sensation.

I certainly do not recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a plot driven movie and who is not willing to sit out the long silences. Rather than prose, this piece is a poem--a haiku, if you will. Its message is simple, stark and bleak and the viewer must be willing to enter that sense of nothingness and accept it on its own terms. Rather this film is recommended to those who want to ponder and think upon the small worlds we create to anchor us in a world pretty much out of control.

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More Lost in Translation reviews
review by . May 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Bob is an aging movie star; fighting depression and anxiety in the later years of his life, lonely and lacking friendship outside of his home-land, and on a business trip in Tokyo, Japan. We never see Bob when he's at home; we only see him arrive, and thrive, in the city. Bob goes throughout the day dealing with photo-shoots as well as the Japanese fan-base for his films. Bob does not speak Japanese; and has much trouble understanding these nigh-alien beings …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Perfectly written and acted. I think we all knew the guy who lead in Meatballs could give an emotional performence like that.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Not really a great movie, but thank you Sofia for introducing us to Scarlett.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Strong performances by the leads in this film. Was a bit slow moving for me, though.
review by . August 24, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
There are a few things that are quite amusing about Lost in Translation.  When it came out in 2003, it slowly became a hit among critics and established a cult following.  At first it's hard to see just what the big deal is.  It's a grand movie but it's a very slow paced film, to the point that it seems to really turn some off.  Along those lines others may find it a bit too talkative for their taste.  It's a cult classic, however.  And that means you'll either really …
Quick Tip by . August 21, 2009
Probably the only movie that I enjoy SJ in.
review by . November 26, 2007
The title says it all. I read multiple reviews of Lost in Translation and hesitated...do I want to invest an hour and a half of my life into this film?      Finally, I had a quiet few moments, an opportunity presented itself and I decided to give it a shot.      I can understand the mixed reviews. If you are expecting a movie that ties up any sort of loose ends or follows a plot, you aren't going to like it. If you are expecting Bill Murray to be hilarious, …
review by . January 26, 2007
The subject of two lonely people, one man, one woman, having a chance encounter that blossoms into something more, is quite a common one for movies, books and TV shows. This half-comedic take on it adds the twist of a foreign setting, Tokyo, Japan. The man is Bob, an aging TV star flown into Japan to shoot a drink commercial. The woman is Charlotte, a newlywed tagging along with her husband. Charlotte and Bob meet each other by accident in a bar, and form a friendship while meandering thru the daylife …
review by . December 10, 2006
Pros: Intelligent, well-written, smartly acted and directed.     Cons: A little slow at times.     The Bottom Line: Lost in Translation is a smart movie that begs the viewer to pay attention to the subtle.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Loneliness is one of the most palpable of all human emotions. It can be a dull ache beating in the center of your heart, a restlessness in the pit of your soul; …
review by . December 04, 2005
This is interesting, I'm sure those who are put off by traditional Hollywood productions, which do get old, will love this. I might be crude but I found it a bit too subtle.  Chatlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson was a charming character, someone you wish you could be best friends with, but she still looks the 19 years old girl she is. She does not look like the 25 year old married woman she plays.  During the whole movie all you can think about is, will Bill Murray and Johansson …
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Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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Like a good dream, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation envelops you with an aura of fantastic light, moody sound, head-turning love, and a feeling of déjà vu, even though you've probably never been to this neon-fused version of Tokyo. Certainly Bob Harris has not. The 50-ish actor has signed on for big money shooting whiskey ads instead of doing something good for his career or his long-distance family. Jetlagged, helplessly lost with his Japanese-speaking director, and out of sync with the metropolis, Harris (Bill Murray, never better) befriends the married but lovelorn 25-year-old Charlotte (played with heaps of poise by 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson). Even before her photographer husband all but abandons her, she is adrift like Harris but in a total entrapment of youth. How Charlotte and Bill discover they are soul mates will be cherished for years to come. Written and directed by Coppola (The Virgin Suicides), the film is far more atmospheric than plot-driven: we whiz through Tokyo parties, karaoke bars, and odd nightlife, always ending up in the impossibly posh hotel where the two are staying. The wisps of bittersweet loneliness of Bill and Charlotte are handled smartly and romantically, but unlike modern studio films, this isn't a May-November fling film. Surely and steadily, the film ends on a much-talked-about grace note, which may burn some, yet awards film lovers who "always had Paris" with another cinematic ...
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Director: Sofia Coppola
Release Date: October 3, 2003, September 12, 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Sofia Coppola
Runtime: 1hr 42min
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