Lost in Translation: A Lonely Place

Bill and Scarlett

That moment when he comes back.

Movies are able to capture emotion in a way that few other art forms can. Feelings like anger, happiness, triumph, and sadness are easy to display on the screen. All you need is a decent actress and characters that can carry a story. But, very few movies out there can show you what it is like to be lonely in a crowd of hundreds. It is much easier for a filmmaker to show someone falling in love than to bring truth to a young woman that is caught in a loveless marriage. These emotions are complex, subtle, and difficult to understand.

Very few movies are able to pull this off. You need a great cast, an even better directing effort, and a knockout script.

“Lost in Translation” is one of those movies. An enlightening tale about a truly human connection in a foreign world, “Lost in Translation” is a delicious piece of Sushi-flavored originality in a world of fast-food style chick flicks.

It tells the story of Bob Harris (played by Bill Murray), a past-his-prime movie star who visits Japan on business; he is starring in a commercial for a Japanese whiskey company. While in Tokyo, he drinks often, tries to understand the Japanese locals, avoids calls from his wife, and then drinks more in the hotel bar. More than anything, Bob is unhappy.

It is also the story of Charlotte (played by Scarlett Johansson), a young woman traveling with photographer husband. Charlotte is realizing that her husband is not the man she thought he was, and these feelings are brought out in their Tokyo hotel. She is noticeably unhappy and out of place in her marriage.

If you haven’t guessed it, Bob and Charlotte meet in the hotel and make a connection. This is such a fun relationship to watch unfold on screen, and it is played so well by Murray and Johansson. The two lost and wandering people, separated by age and life experience, become companions in this brand new world. They sing Karaoke together, eat Sushi together, take advantage of universal health care. You know, the normal things you do in Japan.

The scene that pulls this relationship together for me comes when Bob and Charlotte are talking to each other in a hotel room. Charlotte tells him that she feels stuck and wonders if life gets easier. She asks Bob about marriage and being a father. Murray is absolutely brilliant in this scene, making the dialogue seem so natural and real. And then, in a situation where it would be so easy for Bob Harris give into temptation and take advantage of this beautiful girl, writer/director Sofia Coppola does something brilliant. Bob and Charlotte simply fall asleep next to each other, proving to the audience that their relationship is not sexual, but one of deep affection and respect.

While watching this movie, I found myself connecting with the characters in a such a meaningful way. It is in theses moments that I realized the real message of this movie. Loneliness is something we all can relate to, and for these two people, it is what brings them together. The title itself is alluding to the feeling we all experience when we are unhappy; like we are trapped in a foreign land where no one understands us. And when we’re stuck, all we need is someone to set us free.

My Note: This beautiful film deserves nothing but praise.

My Grade: A

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One thought on “Lost in Translation: A Lonely Place

  1. Thanks for sharing your reflections about art, Carson! Keep it up!

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