By Caleb Gierke
Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) brings two souls, lost in unfamiliar territory, together for some fun adventures in Japan. Bob Harris, played by Bill Murray, is a movie star who has passed his prime and is in Japan for a business trip. And Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson, who is tagging along with her husband while he goes off to take pictures of a rock band.
Neither has any desire to be in Japan and yet here they are. They both aimlessly wander around Japan until they find company in each other. This begins a relationship that helps the two get through their time stuck in Japan. They may not want to be there, but they can at least enjoy time with each other while they are there.
Bill Murray is excellent in Lost In Translation and it earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Award, alongside a win for best Original Screenplay and two nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Murray from the beginning of the film gives Bob a sense of disinterest that can be seen in his eyes as well as how he carries himself. He’s here to do a job that he has no desire to do. Every second he isn’t drinking he is musing about it. Alcohol was the only thing keeping him going until he met Charlotte.
Scarlet Johansson is also wonderful in Lost in Translation. She imbues Charlotte with this sense of youthful aimlessness. She is married, but she is still very much a child who is scared of the future. Her husband is almost entirely absent from the film because he has to work, thus leaving Charlotte to find something to do. Unlike Bob or her husband, she is just here to tag along. She wanders around Japan taking in the various sights until she meets Bob.
The chemistry between Charlotte and Bob is quite fun to watch, albeit their relationship is one that is hard to put into words without spoiling the film or various other films. These are two people who find each other to enjoy a situation that feels like it could drain the life out of them. They go to various parties and other night life activities. Just as a word of warning, they do go to some places with adult content, so if that bothers you, steer clear of this film or skip through that scene. It is only for a few minutes and they just sit there before leaving, but it is still graphic content. Regardless, Charlotte and Bob form a special connection as they bring each other along for misadventures in Japan.
The film touches on a lot of themes that can be relevant to most age groups. The sense of aimless wandering while still trying to find a purpose in life is definitely something that audiences can find relatable. Bob’s relationship with his family is another, but that is something that will be harder for everyone to connect with. In the end, most people will find themselves at a point where they feel lost and Lost in Translation tries to help us weather that storm even if only a little bit. The film captures a sense of melancholy that I’ve only seen in a few movies, but one that can cut deep into those of us who are still lost souls trying to find our way home.
Lost in Translation is streaming on Amazon Prime. For other Sofia Coppola films, On the Rocks is streaming on AppleTV+ and The Virgin Suicides is streaming on Amazon Prime. For other films from the Coppola family, The Godfather Part I and II are streaming on CBS All Access. For a film with a somewhat similar atmosphere, but entirely different age group there is Palo Alto streaming on Amazon Prime.