Los in Translation

Lost in Translation is brilliantly written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It is a comedic drama starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. They play as Bob Harris and Charlotte, two lost and lonely American souls in a strange land. We study wonderful travelogue, sharp cultural juxtaposition, affectionate love story and a fierce indictment of marriage. We see this through two characters. They bond strongly, if temporarily, and their relationship remains platonic. When they begin to fall in love with each other they begin to emerge from the safe, claustrophobic havens of their hotel rooms to experience all that Japan has to offer for them.

Tokyo is an extremely busy city, but the two American still feel lost within the complexity of Japan. Loneliness doesn’t always mean that someone is physically separated from loved ones or from people in general. One can be alone in the middle of a crowded room. Just like Bob and Charlotte are alone in the heart of Japan.

They both happen to be in Tokyo for different reasons and they come from different backgrounds, but neither of them can seem to get beyond their dissatisfactions in order to take in this whole new world. With the language barriers, the indecipherable television programs and their personal problems, they look at Japan as a puzzle that cannot be possibly be put together in a matter of days.

As the film opens, Bob Harris has just arrived in Japan to do a series of whiskey commercials. For a few days of work he will earn two million dollars. His journey from the airport to the hotel he is confronted with his own picture in an ad amongst the bright neon glitter of central Tokyo at night.

Bob seems disinterested in his marriage and career. He makes calls back home to his wife, whose passion also seems to have flamed out. Bob and his wife hint at each other that they both don’t really care what the other really has to say. On the other hand, Bob still loves his children very much.

While Charlotte and John (Giovanni Ribisi), married for two years, have a passion-free relationship. John and Charlotte tell each other that they love each other so often; they seem to be trying to convince themselves. Yet, Charlotte still follows her self-obsessed photographer husband.

Charlotte is having grave doubts about her husband, her career potential (she wants to be a writer) and, her place in life. She searches for meaning in her life. Bob and Charlotte’s life struggles lie deeper than what one person can provide, especially the person they have chosen to settle down with. Bob and Charlotte are married people, but they are also very lonely people. Charlotte doesn’t know her place in life as she sadly says to Bob “I’m stuck.” She doesn’t know what to do for the rest of her life, so she is confused and disoriented in her own life.

Coppola shows that the two are lost not merely because of where they are, but who they are. Charlotte lounges sadly in her hotel room. She sits on the windowsill and gazes out over the city in daylight, listening to a self-help CD. It’s a convincing portrait of depression. Bob’s room is entirely dark and wood-coloured. His solitude doesn’t take the form of gazing out, but of mindless activity. He tries to go to the gym, swimming at the hotel pool, watching television, taking a bath and sitting alone at the hotel bar.

Bob and charlotte meet in the hotel bar. Charlotte and Bob ponder about their confusion and share an unmistakable connection that transcends speech.

It’s in the small, quiet moments that the movie soars. Perfectly capturing a traveler’s inability to sleep while he tries his best to shut out the world around him and fall asleep.

Without the use of subtitles, Coppola forces the viewers to feel just as lost as Bob. When the Japanese do speak to him in English, he is sometimes just as confused as when their words are translated for him. Throughout the film, Coppola trusts the viewer’s intelligence, assuming that we don’t need everything spelled out for us.

During the film, the beautiful and subtle moments depicted within the Japanese culture, which were