Seventeen years on from the cinematic release of Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation” and this film has only gained more relevance in our modern age. As much as it can be considered a caricature of Japanese culture, the bright lights and overstimulating culture shock of Tokyo only adds to the theme of loneliness running through the very veins of this film. The cinematography wonderfully illustrates this, the beautiful way the scenes are lit and the various shots of the neon and bustling Tokyo depicts why the bond between these two foreigners in a confusing land is so poignant.
The performances from Bill Muray and Scarlett Johnasson are what drives the narrative. Muray stars as the ageing Bob Harris, a washed-up actor with a crumbling marriage and who is in Japan to film a commercial. Johansson’s Charlotte is also in Japan, young and having just graduated she is supporting her husband John, a celebrity photographer. She finds herself struggling with his lifestyle and the stale nature of their marriage.
A series of chance encounters occur, leading Bob and Charlotte to meet and then grow closer with each shared experience. The dialogue between them is special in its simplicity, the subtleties of what they don’t say speaks volumes of their confusion and raw exhaustion with the tedious world that they live in.
This is not to say the film is faultless, the pacing in the first half is often a bit slow and the obvious complaints of xenophobia regarding the portrayal of Japanese culture are a major blight on this film. However, what this film does to a brilliant degree is connect deeply with the viewers’ own sense of melancholy. It is clear that Coppola’s directing and script deserve clear merit for being able to demonstrate the connection between these two neglected souls and why this matters to the audience. We are able to recognise the monotony of our own lives through these characters, able to empathise with the magic of being truly understood. That is what makes this film special and well worth watching.