Release Date: 2003
Director: Sofia Coppola
Why I picked this: Heard it’s great, saw it on Netflix
The meaning of the title “Lost in Translation” becomes very evident early in the film, in a scene where Bill Murray, who portrays a fading movie star, is filming a Japanese TV commercial for whiskey. The Japanese director gives a very detailed and specific description in his native language, but this description is barely intact when the translator recites a simplified version to Bill Murray’s character. The cultural differences between Japan and the U.S is only one of the themes of this movie, which focuses on loneliness and romance. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson are married to different people, and collide in a hotel in Japan when both are going through different yet both difficult points of their lives. Bill Murray’s character is going through a mid-life crisis, and Scarlett Johansson, young and married for two years, is confused on the direction of the rest of her life. Both are unsatisfied with their marriages. Murray and Johansson connect with their common loneliness, begin an intimate and close relationship. But while there are many erotic undertones in the film, even from the opening moments of the film, they never intersect with Murray’s and Johansson’s relationship. It is non-romantic and non-sexual, bit the connection between the two is still strong. Bill Murray is a natural actor, and excels in the movie’s occasional humorous moments, and Scarlett Johansson, who was only 18 years old at the time of filming, gives a strong performance as well. Sofia Coppola is a wonderful director, and she paints a beautiful moving picture of the city of Tokyo. It’s a thought-provoking and unpredictable movie.
There’s a lot to take from this movie, and its themes of loneliness, confusion, and culture shock are themes that any of us can relate to, in part because of the natural performances of its two leads.