Lost in Translation

Continuing on with boy meets girl, the story of Bob and Charlotte is one of my other favorites. I remember seeing Lost In Translation in college and just being amazed. From the scenery in Tokyo to the music and the performances by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson, I can’t believe I haven’t watched this film more since then. A snowy Sunday evening was perfect to watch it and escape for a while. Bob (Murray) and Charlotte (Johansson) are in Tokyo for their respective reasons and meet each other at their hotel. The meeting builds over time from a smile in the elevator to a glance at the hotel bar and …. sigh …. another karaoke scene to melt my heart. It’s like they’ve known each other forever and couldn’t resist their moments together. Writer and director Sofia Coppola also plays out the culture of Japan as Bob and Charlotte find what they are missing in their own lives with each other. They’re both married, but struggle with what they have with their spouses. Charlotte is a newlywed and says she doesn’t know who she’s married to. Bob is married for 25 years and his wife is just there for the kids, not him.
There is some symbolism in their dialogue … Bob saying he’s planning a prison break or that he needs to get out of there and Charlotte saying she’s stuck and doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be. I don’t know how, but what they’re lacking, they find in each other. Interestingly, their relationship is not so much played out romantically on screen but as a connection neither of them can define or escape.
In the end, Bob has to go back to his home and family. His fleeting encounter with Charlotte is heartbreaking, but it carries permanence I take some relief from. In the final scene, they end up saying goodbye twice. (Spoiler Alert!!!)
Bob is in the cab to the airport and sees Charlotte on the street again after they said goodbye at the hotel. He stops her and whispers something in her ear, which the viewer does not hear, and they kiss for the first time. Bob still leaves, but the fact he said something to her leaves the viewer with the feeling that what is meant to be, will be. I can’t wait to see Coppola’s latest, Somewhere, but Lost in Translation will always have a special place in my heart.

P.S. Check out this link about role Bill Murray has missed/passed up, who knew?!?


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