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Friday Movie Flashback: ‘Lost in Translation’

Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” is certainly way beyond language barrier.

Someone once said that something’s always bound to get lost in translation, and that’s one of the themes in the award-winning film “Lost in Translation” by Sofia Coppola. It’s not the main theme, granted, but it’s definitely significant and is consistently addressed all throughout. I personally think that it excellently frames story of the brief but undoubtedly strong attraction between the two leads, Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson).

Bob, an aging American celebrity, was in Tokyo to fulfill his commitment to star in an advertising campaign for Japanese whiskey brand Suntory (“For relaxing times, make it Suntory time”, as its memorable tagline went). At the same time, Charlotte, it seemed, has been in the city for a while, having joined his husband who had to fulfill some commitments of his own as a photographer. Although she technically has company, she may well be alone just like Bob was since her husband was always away. Inevitably, given that they’re both foreigners in the same foreign country, these two seemingly unlikely individuals meet and form a close companionship. They spend time together exploring the city and even each other’s thoughts, and, as the ending implies, eventually develop a relationship deeper than mere companionship – a romantic relationship, if you will, although to be honest the logical person in me leans more toward the close companionship type. If you’d look closely, despite the age gap, Bob and Charlotte are practically on the same boat when it comes to their personal struggles.

“Lost in Translation” turns out to be a deeper film that what it says on the tin. Although it has its fair share of hilarious moments, courtesy mainly of Bob and his misadventures with the Japanese language, it addresses subjects like culture shock and loneliness, among others. There are a number of extremes in it, quiet and loud scenes, dramatic and hilarious ones. I also like how it showcased Japan both as fast-paced, loud, and thriving with neon lights and modernity, and as calm and gentle. True, it skims only the surface of Japanese culture from the perspective of a foreigner, but it’s interesting and overall beautiful nonetheless.

Now, the ending. Much has already been said about it, and for good reason: it’s unique to the film, and up to this day, viewers could only speculate just what it was that Bob whispered to Charlotte in the middle of a crowded street that made Charlotte very emotional. Now, while I find that interesting myself, I honestly don’t really have something smart or new or groundbreaking to contribute to discussions about it. I didn’t even attempt to delve further into it and overthink, at least not just yet, instead opting to just enjoy the film as it is. There simply are some things better left unsaid, and it’s the perfect conclusion to Bob and Charlotte’s whirlwind relationship. It’s definitely is part of what makes “Lost in Translation” work, and when you come to think of it, it kind of lives up not only to the title in a way but also to what the entire film is all about.

Movie trailer via YouTube

All stills in this article were sourced from Beautiful Stills From Beautiful Films.

Like this article? Check out our articles from the Friday Movie Flashback series in the Lomography magazine!

written by chooolss

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