Lost In Translation
Lost in Translation is a 2003 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. The film stars Bill Murray as Bob Harris, a fading American movie star going through a midlife crisis who travels to Tokyo to promote a famous whiskey brand. There, he befriends another estranged American named Charlotte portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, who is accompanying her husband on a work trip. Both Bob and Charlotte connect with each other against the backdrop of alienation in an unknown city where they are the only people to understand each other, both literally and metaphorically. If I had to sum up the movie in one line, I would have to say that Lost In Translation is the story of two lost souls who find home in each other, far from their actual homes in an alien city.
Cast & Crew
While reading up about the movie and its production process I came across Sofia Coppola’s travel experiences during her visit to Tokyo and how she formed this story about two individuals experiencing “romantic melancholy”, which describes the genre of this movie so perfectly. There’s a certain sense of loneliness which is romanticised with the help of Sofia’s writing and direction. The movie also feels like a personal and heartfelt love letter written by Sofia to the city of Tokyo, which according to me was the protagonist of the story. You get to see the city in all its different avatars throughout the movie, and it makes you wonder if it really is Tokyo or some unseen parallel world which has so many different facets and emotions.
It would be a little unfair to talk about the visuals of the movie and not mention Lance Acord, who has shot the city and the lead pair so beautifully. The cinematography is simple and elegant just like the story itself. I also felt that the movie was shot in a very documentary-style sort of manner with a lot of static shots and natural lighting, which really added to the mood and tone of the film.
Also, shoutout to Sarah Flack for doing such a great job at editing this movie. I could feel a sense of stillness which was required to absorb every shot and sequence of this movie. The pacing of the narrative was so perfect that you could feel the silences and pauses of the screenplay.
So in all honesty I had not seen a Bill Murray movie in a very long time, and I forgot how good and amazing he is. I don’t think anyone could’ve pulled off this role as earnestly as Bill did because Bill is Bob Harris. Bob’s expressions and deadpan humor with a touch of philosophy is what Bill represents in real life. And it’s a weird analogy but Bill’s brand of humor for some reason always reminds me of Irrfan, who could make you laugh by doing so little.
Okay fun fact – Scarlett Johansson was only 17 years old when she portrayed the role of Charlotte in this movie. And I must say that her performance was extremely balanced because there was a certain amount of maturity along with rawness which contrasted so wonderfully with Bill’s character.
“Does it get easier?’ Imagine you’re in your room, and it’s raining outside, the skies are grey and gloomy. You’re sipping on your chai while looking outside the window, watching the raindrops racing each other. It is starting to get a little chilly. And just then, a warm blanket wraps itself around you. Lost In Translation is that warm and cozy blanket.
Now I know it’s a very vague comparison but this is exactly what the movie made me feel. If melancholy had a visual representation, it would be this movie, and I am really glad I decided to revisit this movie now as an adult, when I’m a little familiar with love, life and most of the shenanigans that come with it.
I think I was a teenager when I first came across this movie and I couldn’t really connect with it. And it was quite natural because a teenager with raging hormones can never understand such delicate and intricate emotions. I don’t think I even knew what melancholy meant when I saw this movie for the first time and maybe that’s why it got lost somewhere in my memories until a few days back, when a friend sent me an image from the movie and it all came rushing back. I couldn’t wait to experience this movie as an adult and experience all the emotions that came with it.
I believe that the simplest stories stay with you for the longest and Lost In Translation does exactly that. On paper it sounds so simple but on-screen it translates into a pure and perfect love story. I say pure because Bob and Charlotte’s connection felt almost divine but also extremely ordinary. I was rooting so hard for them that I just wanted to see them on-screen together in every scene without any dialogues, just laying next to each other, and that is probably why one of my favourite sequences in the movie is when Bob & Charlotte are laying on the bed, next to each other and talking about life and eventually they just fall asleep. They looked so peaceful and it felt like they finally found home in this unknown city. I always feel that home is not really a place but more of a feeling and Bill and Charlotte found their home in each other, and maybe that’s why the ending felt so satisfying and wholesome.
I don’t think they make love stories like this anymore but I sure hope that in a parallel universe Bob & Charlotte are still in Tokyo, singing at karaokes, running through the crowded streets, holding hands and eating sushi for breakfast.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.