A Movie Changed My Day: Lost in Translation

Nine years later.

Lost in Translation came out in 2003, and I just saw this movie. Some flick fan I am!

We all get around to some of the bigger, more impactful movies at our own pace. I also completed the first two Godfather films this past month as a part of the”Watch every Oscar winner for Best Picture” challenge on my Life List.

Lost in Translation just so happened to be the one movie that bumped almost every other movie I loved out of their top spots. With the exception of American Beauty, the romantic drama/comedy (it really had it all), is now my second favorite movie of all time. Starring Bill Murray, a young Scarlett Johansson, and directed by Sofia Coppola, the movie pierced the sensitive spots inside of me like a bullet. 

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There are so many themes in this movie. Love, loneliness and aging are just a few. The premise? Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a super famous actor who is aging in a celebrity world where youth reigns. He is in Tokyo for business when he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) a young woman whose own life is bogged down and serviced to the traveling needs of her new husband. More or less bound by the hotel, Charlotte runs into Bob in the hotel bar and continues to do so. Without acting fan on him, they develop a relationship that starts off sweet and friendly, with the exchange of witty jokes and half smirks that suggest understanding and comfort, although they know virtually nothing of each other.

Over the course of the movie, Bob starts to adapt to Charlotte; he enjoys human interaction for the first time in years. His wife, as he explains to Charlotte, is more concerned with material things (…oh, women), like the library’s new carpet color than any emotional context with her husband. His failing marriage and distance from his children is (assuming by what I gather from American society) draining the 20-plus-year marriage to the point of near divorce.

There is a scene when Charlotte invites Bob out to a club in Tokyo with some new friends she met during her stay. They sing karaoke, bar hop and feed off of each other’s (in the moment) happiness to a point that it could make the viewer cry. The extent of each of their true emptiness begins to feels so real. It is almost too much to watch. For once, the duo who have almost nothing in common are able to come together with the idea that they are both lost in the world; they are lost in Tokyo, dealing with an enormous culture barrier, but moreover, lost in their own lives. There is a subtly in the two character’s failing marriages. We know it is happening, but instead of dwelling on it- the movie lets us focus more on the developing relationships, built on this common ground.

The movie somewhat proves that no matter the location change, as far and wide as Tokyo, nothing cannot supplement severe loneliness like love can. If Lost in Translation showed me anything (fictional or not), it is that travel is only the first step in attempting to soul search. It takes more than just relocating. It takes going balls deep into a city; it takes meeting people and listening to yourself, adapting or not adapting to culture, in order to realize that maybe things home are not so bad, or perhaps, they are. 

There is an eeriness in this movie that is the idea that people, no matter the stature or stacked bank account, can be seriously unhappy. There is a hopefulness in this movie that gave me, and likely other viewers, the strength to hold on when everything around them seems wrong. There is enough depth in this movie to convince a soul-searcher that there is enough land in the world that has yet to be traveled and discovered, yet to be used as inspiration, with all the possibilities of one day finding yourself truly.

If you have not seen the movie, please, please, please, sit with some wine and take in its beauty and sadness. The story is unmatched, and I foresee it to be for years to come.

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- “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.”
-“You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”