Lost in Translation Movie Review
Director: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
Oscar Wins: Best Original Screenplay
Other Nominations: Best Actor (Bill Murray), Best Director, Best Picture
I’m going to say something that might be controversial but I feel like it has to be said. OK, here we go:
Bill Murray is one of the greatest actors of our generation.
OK – there it is. I said it. If you need more proof of this man’s acting abilities, I urge you to watch Lost in Translation.
Famous actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is stuck. While he should be in New York acting in plays and movies, he’s spending time in Tokyo filming a whiskey commercial. His time away is clearly putting a strain on his marriage and family life as Bob continuously struggles to communicate with his wife and kids back home.
Young college graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is stuck, too. Her husband of two years is in Tokyo for work and, since she wasn’t doing anything, she decided to tag along. However, while her husband flutters about with his camera in hand, Charlotte is just left to entertain herself in the hotel room. She’s visibly pained that he never offers to bring her along and even when she straight up offers to join him for a drink with a client, he seems genuinely surprised she would want to come.
Both lost in their own lives, Bob and Charlotte somehow find each other in one of the most populated cities in the world…offering each other something that seems to be missing in both of their lives – empathy.
The characters of Bob and Charlotte are really our gateway into the insane city that is Tokyo. We eat and drink with them, we go clubbing with them. We sing karaoke with them. Like the third wheel, we are witness to their budding friendship, never included – always observant.
And even though this movie takes place in Tokyo, there is a quietness about it that adds to the intimacy of this film. The comedy is not said, but implied. It’s in simple looks, slight gestures, a raise of the eyebrow at the right moment. The genius behind this movie is that it feels so real because it is real. Movies have trained us to think that two characters who find comfort in each other like Bob and Charlotte should end up together. They should forget their spouses and just run off and be happy together – but that’s not who these people are. That’s not real life. That’s not the point of their friendship. What Bob and Charlotte share in Lost in Translation is not romantic, though it certainly had the potential to be. As I said before, it’s empathy. They get each other. They can relate to each other. They can communicate in a place that seems to disregard them. In each other, these two lost souls are found again.
If you’ve heard anything about this movie before, it probably has to do with the controversial ending, when Bob whispers something into Charlotte’s ear. We can’t hear what he says, all we see is Charlotte’s reaction. This exchange was not scripted. Director Sophia Coppola did not write dialog, nor did she record what he said. Those words were not meant for us. The entire time we’ve just been observing, watching, outsiders. This was never OUR moment to get closure, it was theirs. UGH I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH.