Scarlett Johansson plays as Charlotte and Bill Murray as Bob Harris in this unusual film, directed by Sofia Coppola. By Coppola own admission, she wanted to create a romantic movie about two characters that have a moment of connection. The story's timeline was intentionally shortened to emphasize this moment resulting in a very powerful one. Though apparently not much happens in the movie, it is absolutely well written and superb is the portrayal of the 2 main characters. 

The male role was specifically written for Bill Murray who gave a stunning performance as Bob Harris, an apathetic, bored, middle-aged American movie star, is in Tokyo to film an advertisement for Suntory whisky. 

Stuck in the artificial confines of a luxury hotel one night, after a long photoshoot, he meets Charlotte, a young college graduate, who is left behind in her hotel room by her husband, a celebrity photographer on assignment in Tokyo. 

Over the course of the film, several things get "lost in translation". 
For one thing, the meaning of the long and detailed instructions by the advertisments director get lost in the concise translation by the interpreter, but also -and most importantly- the life of the two central characters gets lost.
They are both lost in the Japanese culture alien to them and also lost in their own lives and relationships. Charlotte is unsure of her future with her husband, as she believes he takes more interest in his models, than in her. At the same time, Bob's own 25-year marriage is tired as he goes through a midlife crisis. His wife continues to call him from the USa showing him tile and wallpaper samples to chose for their house but never really taking interest in him and how he's doing.

These two people are drawn to each other because they both feel lost and uncertain, cause they are both afflicted by different yet parallel doubts about their lives. Being complete strangers they are able to be completely honest and unguarded with the other.

Bob and Charlotte have brief encounters each night at the hotel bar, until Charlotte invites Bob to meet up with some local friends of hers. The two begin a friendship and bond through their adventures in Tokyo together while experiencing the differences between Japanese and American culture, and between their own generations.

On the penultimate night of his stay, Bob ends up sleeping with the resident vocalist. Charlotte will find out, something leading to conflict and tension. However later that night, during a fire alarm at the hotel, they will reconcile and express how they will miss each other as they make one more trip back to the hotel bar.
On the following morning, Bob is set for his departure back to the United States. He tells Charlotte goodbye at the hotel lobby shortly before checking out and sadly watches her retreat back to an elevator. He will unexpectedly see her again though, meeting her on a crowded street while riding in a limousine to the airport. He gets out of the car, goes to her, holds her and whispers something (inaudible to the audience) in her ear. The two share a kiss, say goodbye and Bob departs.

++ The ending is powerful because it is completely unexpected. When he whispers something in her ear on the congested Tokyo streets, the fact we don’t get to hear what it is remains true to the film’s elegance, subtlety and depth.

+++ Despite the almost thirty five years age difference between them, Murray and Johansson have great chemistry. I think, as many said, it is an unusual love story where the protagonists don’t do the obvious things. Sleeping with each other or having an affair that ends with in tears and separation would have been maybe fairly predictable. 
The film is more about two unlikely people who forged an unexpected, intense relationship. It is a film about the uneasiness of feeling lonely in a foreign place and at the same time feeling lost in a particular moment in life. The beauty of the film is in the ability by Sofia Coppola of telling things unsaid and undone. 
Bob's and Charlotte's loneliness is amplified by the noisy, chaotic, neon-filled Tokyo background which – despite the crowds – is a shown as a very isolating and lonely place really.

In facts, on one side it was boosted by critical acclaim and praised for Coppola's script and distinctive directing, but it has also been met with criticism on the basis that it provides an unpleasant stereotypical depiction of Japanese culture of today where contemporary Japanese are portrayed as ridiculous people who have lost contact with their own culture.

I first saw the film before my visit to Japan. I personally do not recall having that feeling, instead I remember I was very impressed by the characters and their story in the one place on Earth I was so desperately eager to see with my own eyes.

Lost in Translation won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2003.

If you saw the movie, I will be happy to hear your opinion about it.

See you next friday.

  { credits images: 1 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8  }



  1. I love this movie. Of course I was tempted to google all the ending whispering guesses. Were you?

    1. Yes, I still wonder what it could be, but did not google the ending ;-) Did you? [Marta please send again your comment on Bday Giveaway, I deleted it by mistake :-)]

  2. Although it is assumed that L1 use reduces anxiety in monolingual language classes (Allwright & Bailey ,1991), the situation could be different in advanced level classes.For example see more, the findings of the study by Ayd?n (2001) revealed that some advanced level students showed annoyance about L1 use.


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