Country: USA. Japan.
Language: English. Japanese. German. French.
Release Date: 2003
AKA: Perdidos en Toiko.
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson.
Director: Sofia Coppola.

Lost In Translation

A lonely, aging movie star named Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and a conflicted newlywed, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), meet in Tokyo. Bob is there to film a Japanese whiskey commercial; Charlotte is accompanying her celebrity-photographer husband. Strangers in a foreign land, the two find escape, distraction and understanding amidst the bright Tokyo lights after a chance meeting in the quiet lull of the hotel bar. They form a bond that is as unlikely as it is earnest and significant.

Having just been to Japan for the first time I decided to revisit Lost In Translation because I had some issues with the presentation of the Japanese people and their culture. Something was a bit skewed.

So, the problem I have is that I'm not sure if Sofia Coppola is going for the mocking angle. There are times when I think she goes too far, like with "L" and "R" thing, which is recurring and a bit tedious. While at other times I just laugh because it's kind of wacky but definitely appeals to my sense of humour. The prostitute scene just had me giggling from the beginning.

I found the Japanese people I met to be friendly, proud of their Country and with a robust love for their food, whiskey and beer.

Saying all that, this is still an awesome film. The scene where the wunderkind Director of the Suntory ad asks Bob to go for a more "old blue eyes" approach and Bob jokingly says, more Joey Bishop I would think (referring to Joey's age as the Senior member of the Rat Pack). Inevitably, he is asked to pose like Bond and this appeals to the Director enormously.

At this point we're introduced to Kelly (Anna Farris) and Charlotte's husband John (Giovanni Ribisi). It seems quite obvious to me that John is having an affair with Kelly but no one else seems to notice. And, John doesn't mention it to Charlotte, so she spends her time wandering around the Hotel, the inimitable Park Hyatt Hotel Tokyo.

Amusing scenes:
Charlotte's flower arranging class at the Hotel, where she is prompted to put one flower into an existing arrangement and then is lauded for her artistry.

Bob's own self mockery, "Getting paid $2 million when I could be doing a play somewhere ...", Charlotte and Bob laugh a lot about that.

Bob's wife who keeps faxing memos about the redecoration of their house, annoying at first and then ludicrous with Bob's flabbergasted face loyally portraying his exasperation with his wife.

Bob and Charlotte laughing over having had no sleep for the last week which they decided was probably only three days.

The weird scene where Charlottes asks Bob to meet her friends which ends with one of the friends laser shooting them and tracking them outside on the streets like a proper serial killer. Where do people get these ideas ... oh wait.

Stand out is Charlotte's Karaoke turn singing "I'm Special" from the Pretenders and then Bob singing "More Than This" from Bryan Ferry, with both songs being favourites of mine.

Bob carries a sleeping Charlotte back to her room and then goes back to his room to find the floor covered with faxes from his wife. He shakes his head and goes to bed.

Charlotte goes to Kyoto on the Bullet Train, walks through an incredibly beautiful Japanese garden, sees Fuji from the train (just like I did coming back from Osaka to Tokyo), temples and weddings seem to be Kyoto's top draws. Charlotte is lonely and interested in everything she is seeing, the papers tied to the trees. The fortune telling paper strips are for good fortune but if you get a bad one, just tie it to a tree and the bad fortune is gone.

The ending and what Bob says to Charlotte will forever be up for dispute but "Like Honey" from the Jesus and Mary Chain plays and Sofia Coppola has pulled her favourite 80's songs together yet again ... the list works for me.