Lost in Translation (2003) Poster

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9/10
Lost Souls
SECurtisTX29 March 2004
It's been a long time since a movie has made me hurt the way this one did. Perhaps "hurt" isn't the right word. "Ache" is more like it. I could so completely identify with both characters.

Bob is a middle-aged actor caught in a life which has lost its zest and purpose, doing what he "ought" to be doing (making money doing whiskey commercials) instead of doing what he WANTS to do (plays). And then a young, beautiful, intelligent woman enters his orbit. On that level alone, with its mute longing and sexual tension, I can identify with him.

And then there is Charlotte, a student of philosophy seeking herself, her soul lost and adrift. She doesn't know who she is, doesn't know what she wants. Her life is a quest for authenticity of self. And I identify with her because so much of my life I have been seeking the same thing.

This movie isn't for everyone. They will call it boring, lifeless, limp. There are people, I realize, who have never experienced that kind of longing, who had never sought meaning in their lives, and searched for their own lost souls. They live for the here and now, without giving a thought to the spiritual aspects of life.

A friend said introverts will love this movie, extraverts will hate it. I think that is a fair surface assessment. This movie is all about the inner lives of two people whose souls connect for a brief time in an alien city. It is a love affair not of bodies, but of minds and spirits.

Some this movie will make angry. Some this movie will make weep.
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10/10
What makes a good movie...
jlmmymack-16 August 2005
When I used to think of what made a good movie, I would look at a movie from all aspects: direction, cinematography, editing, acting, story etc. The sum of all these parts make up the whole, and are also what lead me to my opinion of a film...

Then came Lost in Translation. The first time I watched this movie, I felt a strange sense of depression that lasted for a few days, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I watched it again and again, and felt the same way each time. I thought maybe it was because I have never traveled and would really like to, or that I have the desire to find the perfect woman in a strange world.

Whatever the case, I realized one thing. LOST IN TRANSLATION MADE ME THINK. It made me question my life, its purpose, whether I was happy or not, and what I want do with it. Never has a movie touched me in such a way, and for that reason, this is the one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. That doesn't mean its the best movie ever made, in fact, I can name many that are technically better than this film, like the one I named before. But I cannot name a movie that has had more effect on me than Lost in Translation, and that is why I love it and will love it forever.

Think of the last movie that really made you think, one that had such a great influence on you that it somehow changed your life, even for the littlest bit. That, to you, is a great movie...
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10/10
Lingers for days- sucks you in.
mlee-2930 November 2005
Few movies make you THINK long after they end. That's OK. Movies are supposed to entertain and most do so without requiring even one ounce of thought. It's sad that maybe some of you out there prefer movies- and life- that way. Thankfully this movie is all about thinking and feeling. This is not a chick flick. It's a human experience flick.

This film examines and lays bare the intricacies of love, life and loneliness; the claustrophobia, insomnia and disorientation of traveling to a foreign country. The loneliness that creeps in after life's normality starts to wear thin. The spark of promise that meeting someone new brings. This is what life is about and what this film so flawlessly portrays.

How many of you can relate to and have actually been that guy/girl on business, in the hotel in some foreign city, happily married yet feeling alone and beaten by life's banality? How many of us have been tempted in that very situation, to stray from the confines of moral adherence for the lure of a forbidden, if fleeting, joy? How many have felt that tingle- that spark- when a stranger smiles and you think, "you know, in another life..."? Change the time, place and all of us have been there whether we admit it or not. Maybe single people don't get this movie; maybe it's for those of us who have walked down that aisle and are wiser to the realities of life.

The characters here are true. Their dialog is true. The setting is true. It's all tirelessly fascinating because we can all relate to it and it involves us in a way that most movies do not. We find ourselves drawn to every moment these two experience together and apart. We are intrigued by the glances, nuances and words they share.

Johanssen is brilliant and beautiful as the lonely, young wife questioning her marriage. Her beauty is classic, not necessarily sexual, though she is obviously alluring in this role. Her bee-stung lips, perfect body and haunting eyes may have something to do with that. Still she's more sophisticated beauty than mindless hottie, even at 19. This is a role tailor-made for her. It could never have been Reese Witherspoon or Jessica Alba or - God forbid- Jessica Simpson, or anybody else in that realm.

Murray is simply at his best. He does "exasperated, middle-aged and depressed" better than most, with his receding hairline and frumpy body. You really believe that these two could connect in a physical and emotional way, as remote as that may seem on the surface. What other 50-something could ever be believed to be appealing to a young woman as pretty as Charlotte? That's a tough chemistry to fake and I can't think of a more perfect pair. What drives them to this attraction is what's intriguing to watch.

Go see this. Turn off your "Major Blockbuster-Tom Cruise-Action-Pop Culture Catch Phrase-Big Star" mind and tune in with a more searching self. Watch this with your soul and heart, not your eyes. If you look deeper than the surface you'll find yourself moved by the whole experience. Yes, it's THAT good.
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10/10
A great film, but the rating was lost in translation
Derek23720 February 2005
It's very interesting to see all of the ratings that Lost In Translation received in different countries. In Canada it is only PG, while in America it's rated R! And really, the only explanation for this is a brief scene at a strip joint that shows some nudity. I really look down on that R rating because Lost In Translation is a good-hearted film that should be enjoyed by all ages. Notice how during the 2003 Oscar season two films played the "only one special effect: the effect on the audience" card; one being this film and the other being Mystic River. Both are great films, both are rated R in the U.S., but only one of them can carry along its story without brutal murders.

So what can I say about Lost In Translation that hasn't been said a million times already? It's all true. It's subtle, down-to-earth, and allows the audience to observe and relate to the characters, Bob and Charlotte. Both of them have a life crisis to deal with, and I guess if you're thousands and thousands of miles away from your problems it makes it easier to take an objective look at them, even if they do follow you. Bob and Charlotte confide in each other and develop a relationship. That's what it's all about, and every scene is precious. It's a real and true to life kind of film. We never hear the lines: "Oh, Charlotte, I'm so glad I went to Japan. You've changed my life in such a profound way and you'll always be in my heart." That's because that just isn't the way it goes in real life. The feeling is there, the characters know it, the audience knows it, so it has to be left at that.

So, yeah, I love this movie. It's clearly the highlight of Bill Murray's career and marks the perfect first real stand-out in Scarlett Johanson's. It's so rare to see a movie that only has an interest in its characters (and only two of them, at that!) and makes them so charming, lovable, and familiar. This is a great example of non-Hollywood Hollywood films: the well-known actors and producers going to the roots of independent film-making. In an age where half the movies out there are packed with CGI, this is refreshing to see.

My rating: 10/10
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10/10
Perfect.
Torgo_Approves23 March 2007
Death in Vegas' spellbinding song "Girls" perfectly sets the tone for Sofia Coppola's second feature film, the bittersweet, intelligent, mature and absolutely wonderful Lost in Translation. Trying to summarize the movie is almost pointless because the emotions the film sparks within you (in my case, at least) can't be described in words. The basic story follows Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a washed-up, depressed actor and an emotionally confused newlywed respectively, as they accidentally meet on Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo. The two form an unusual bond, but a bond that is infinitely stronger than that which they share with their respective wife and husband (Charlotte's partner is a jittery photographer who doesn't pay very much attention to her; Bob's better half keeps calling him, pestering him about which colour they should choose for the carpet back home). Bob and Charlotte's relationship is not really a sexual thing so much as a matter of emotional understanding. They're both stuck in life, unsure of what to do with the rest of it and certainly not very satisfied with what they've done with it so far. It's very touching to watch, in a refreshingly non-sappy way.

The film isn't all mid-life-crisis slit-your-wrists drama, though - it is also hilarious at many points, mainly thanks to Bill Murray, who turns deadpan exasperation into an artform in a role specifically written for him. The pressure on him is high because he is basically the heart and soul of the film, but he nails the part and he's so great I was really surprised to see that he was nominated for an Oscar (since the Academy rarely hands out awards to performances that are actually *good*). Scarlett Johansson is stunning and convincing in her role and more than holds her own against Murray. Giovanni Ribisi as the aforementioned dorky husband and Anna Faris as a brain dead actress are perfectly cast and it's hard not to hate them.

Sofia Coppola's direction is amazing, both stylistically original, passionate and spellbinding. There are many gorgeous images of Tokyo on display here and she finds the right balance between these eye-catching visuals, Murray's comedy and Johansson's angst. Her style is very different from her father's and shouldn't be compared. She clearly shows that she is fully capable of having a career of her own without putting her faith in Hollywood nepotism.

Favourite scenes? Bob's "Santury time" scene is pure comic gold, and the most emotional part, in my opinion, is the karaoke scene during Bob and Charlotte's night out, when Murray sings his version of Bryan Ferry's "More than this". The scene, the way I see it, says so much about the characters and what they're going through. In fact, I'd call it the most important scene in the entire film. Then again, maybe Sofia Coppola just wanted to hear Bill's awesome singing voice (he's actually really good!).

Overall the film is just perfect. The acting, the direction, the soundtrack, plot, themes, humour, visuals... what's not to like? I know some were turned off by the supposedly "slow" pace, which I just thought helped the movie become more captivating. The central relationship needs to take its time to feel realistic. Honestly, what do you want, car chases? It's an existential drama, not Run Lola Run. Sheesh.

For relaxing times... make it Lost in Translation time.
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10/10
A masterpiece about the mood and states of the characters
kevinmanf5 March 2006
It is not easy to talk about "Lost in Translation". Sofia Coppola's second film as a director is in part about things we never talk about. While its two protagonists try to find mutual solace in each other, their silence is as expressive as their words. This is a film that believes that an individual can have a valuable relationship with someone else without becoming part of that person's life. At 19 years of age, I am not married but I can understand pretty well that it is easier for a stranger with whom you share a moment in the bar or corridor to understand your problems better than your husband or wife. Here is an extract from Roger Ebert's great review of the film: "We all need to talk about metaphysics, but those who know us well want details and specifics; strangers allow us to operate more vaguely on a cosmic scale. When the talk occurs between two people who could plausibly have sex together, it gathers a special charge: you can only say "I feel like I've known you for years" to someone you have not known for years."

In this marvellous story, the two lonely individuals that merge the illusions of what they have and what they could have are two Americans. The emotional refuge, Tokyo. We have Bob Harris (Bill Murray), and actor in his fifties who was once a star, and is now supplementing his incomes with the recording of a whisky commercial. On the other side of the telephone, a frightening reality: his wife, his sons, and the mission of choosing the right material for heaven knows what part of the house. When we consider Bob's situation, we realise that Lost in Translation is also a meditation on the misery of fame. Certainly fame has great (perhaps greater than disadvantages) advantages but then there are the obligations, the expectations...

We also have Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a woman in her twenties who is accompanying her husband, a photographer addicted to work, on a business trip. But it could said it is as if she is alone anyway. Her world, just like Bob's, is reduced to strange days in the bedroom, the corridors, the hotel's swimming pool, and the bar, the perfect destination for victims of sleeplessness and wounded soul. The bar is the place Bob and Charlotte meet for the first time. They talk, little, but just enough. Once their dislike for parts of their lives are established, they begin sharing times that feel dead to be able to feel alive.

Bob and Charlotte are souls in transition for whom, surrounded and confused by exotic rituals, and a different language, allows them a moment to lose their identities. Both characters provoke similar feelings form different experiences. There are no kisses or crazy nights between them, but only a shared intimacy in which a night out, a walk in the streets, a session of karaoke becomes a powerful expression of their affection an complicity. The relationship we all await only happens in our minds and the protagonists, whom we are not allowed to know everything they say and desire. Tokyo metaphorically speaking is the third character in the film. The bright colours, the noise of the city...just everything evokes the various spiritual awakenings of the characters.

It ends on a perfect note leaving the relationship of the characters undecided. A rare gem in modern day cinema.
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Filmed in Tokyo, with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, one of the better movies I've seen in a while.
TxMike7 February 2004
For anyone who wants a synopsis of this movie, the critics Ebert and Berardinelli have excellent, complete reviews of 'Lost in Translation', and they both give it their highest ratings.

My wife and I saw it tonight on DVD, with DTS 5.1 sound and both think it is a remarkable movie. I like Bill Murray in just about everything, and this will go down as one of his strongest performances, as Bob, the actor in Japan for a week doing whisky commercials. Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, the young wife virtually abandoned in the city to do her own thing as her photographer husband (Ribisi) goes to various locations for shoots.

What I liked most was the realistic feel. Being in a strange city, with unusual customs and a language you have no hope of understanding. Meeting someone who because of circumstances (age, marital status) will only ever be a friend. Being able to talk freely. Reflecting on where we've been and where we might be going. Many of the negative comments about this movie relate to an impression that it is 'boring.' I'll put on my 'maturity hat' and state that anyone who thinks 'Lost In Translation' is boring simply was not able, at least while they watched it, appreciate the inner beauty of this movie.

The scene that made the whole story come together for me was when they were in one of their hotel rooms (doesn't matter which), overhead shot, they were in bed talking, fully clothed, he is on his back staring at the ceiling, she is on her side, eyes probably closed, the tips of her feet barely touching the side of his leg, and he moves his hand and puts it on her feet. Then the scene fades to black. It is the kind of tender, non-sexual touch that tells us how close they have become, and that theirs is a relationship of mutual trust and admiration, not one of lust.

People like Bob and Charlotte really exist, and they really do meet up in very similar situations. After a week, they must go their separate ways, he to his family and activities of his kids, she to wait for her husband and figure out how to get out of the rut. We sense that he does not love her the way she needs, and we wonder what will happen.
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8/10
Sometimes the simplest stories make the best films
whitefalcon7911 March 2005
I went through an array of emotions and expressions watching this film; most of them centred around how bizarre I thought it was, yet it was like a good book I simply couldn't put down even if the film itself lived up to its title at times.

This is by far the best work Bill Murray has done, and it will be a pleasant surprise for many to see him find a new (to me, anyway) side to his ability as an actor. He captures the role with such precision that you don't realise this is the same guy who, dare I even mention it in the same breath, provided the voice of Garfield last year. You see a few traces of his characteristic smugness every once in a while, but by and large the Bill Murray you see is a lot more serious... and seriously damned good.

It's such a simple story... unhappy married man meets unhappy married woman in a place neither of them are familiar with, and suddenly realise that they're all the other has got at least for the time being. In an age where Hollywood is trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to scare and shock us with something new at every turn, Sofia Coppola takes what should be the premise for a typical chick flick and turns it into something that anyone who has ever experienced an emotion of any description can watch and appreciate.

A brilliant film in any language.
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Leaves you thinking
jvollmer20 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"Lost in Translation" is about two disparate people who have in common the fact that each of them is isolated from their husband/wife in the absurdist landscape of modern cosmopolitan Tokyo.

The main characters are Charlotte and Bob. Charlotte is left alone as her fashion photographer husband is off for days on location. Bob is a former action-style movie star who has been hired to endorse a Japanese whiskey. They meet one another while coping with jet-lag in the hotel they happen to share.

Since each is like a floating piece of their own familiar culture in a sea of Japanese perversions of Western banality, they reflexively cling to one another. As they do this, they develop a wonderfully innocent intimacy based upon each's struggle for personal identity - a quest which they share, although for different reasons.

Against the backdrop of intense objectification which is Tokyo, these two characters find each other in the most delightful way.

Their relationship is captured very nicely in a scene in which the two of them are lying together in a large hotel bed after 'clubbing' into the morning. They're both almost fully clothed - Bob is flat on his back with his arms at his sides, and Charlotte is curled up near him and facing him. They lay there talking yet keep their distance until Bob closes his hand gently over Charlotte's shoeless foot.

The audience is tempted to see him reach out for her hand or face, but the fact that he touches her foot becomes at once a metaphor for their situation: They are two very different people, still at a distance, who connect in an awkward way.

Their relationship builds in intensity until the wonderfully satisfying conclusion - which I won't divulge, except to say that it is at once both heartbreaking and exquisitely affirming.
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8/10
The equivalent of cinematic fishing - once you're hooked, the film isn't letting you go
StevePulaski29 April 2015
Lost in Translation details the kind of wayward search for human connection many of us go through in life, sometimes young, sometimes old, or following a traumatic event. It's the time in our lives when we feel the most lost, and truthfully, many of us don't want answers as to how to better our situation, but just want somebody to go along for the ride. We'd like to find someone to empathize with, embrace on a frequent basis, and know that somebody cares about us and our wayward ways and to reciprocate such feelings.

With this, Sofia Coppola writes and directs a film about that search for human connection and what it can exactly amount to. We are immediately introduced to Bob Harris (Bill Murray), an older American movie star who travels to Tokyo to film an advertisement for Suntory whiskey. Bob has found himself in the mix of a souring marriage and no real close friends, and it is in Tokyo where Bob sinks deeper and deeper into a midlife crisis. Meanwhile, we also meet Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a college graduate whose husband John (Giovanni Ribisi) is starting to lose interest in her in favor of all the models he works with.

Later on, Bob and Charlotte finally meet and immediately recognize each others unfortunate situation. They spend sporadic amounts of time together, often not talking and simply speaking in fragmented sentences and lying next to one another. They aren't very concerned with long conversation; they simply let their lethargy in their current situations carry their relationship along.

Over time, sexual tension between the two builds, though both of them are still caught in relationships, regardless of how mediocre they are. In addition, neither of them are quite sure how to conjure intimacy with one another. The two are much more in tune with being static beings and platonic. This is one of the few dramas I can recall that allows the presence of the characters to take over rather than their actions. Coppola sits back and watches with a keen eye and a sense of mannered restraint how Bob and Charlotte get close over the course of their visit in Tokyo.

Coppola's interest lies in Bob and Charlotte's situation moreso than the progression of their relationship, which is a difficult thing to pull off in film without working with more of an impressionistic style. The brushstrokes Coppola paints this story in are more or less minimal, but they craft just enough out of a little so that we can recognize these characters, their feelings, and their current state. They have transcended living life into simply existing within it, rarely getting excited and scarcely finding any kind of mutual contentment.

Again, in these situations, all you need is another soul who feels the same way you do, and in this case, that's bottled up angst and complete and total uncertainty. The title represents a lot of things and the cultural gap Bob and Charlotte experience is only a small part of it; these two souls are lost within the translation of life. Life has keep going and two formerly active people who could keep up with the bustle have let it all pass by, letting sadness dominate their lives and fogginess encapsulate the remnants of the future. The translation lost is within the characters here, and that's sometimes scarier than not speaking the same language of the community.

The only issue that arises from this is that we get the impression that Coppola either doesn't understand Japanese culture or simply doesn't want to, what with the abundance of cheap stereotypes and archetypal Japanese characters played for nothing but laughs here. Coppola opens by ostensibly getting most out of her way, thankfully, however, through the use of subtle humor, but sporadically doubles back to throw in another jab or two, which can briefly throw the film out of whack. It reminds me of when a really artsy film wants to try and pander and connect with the audience when it thinks it has lot them, and, as shown here amidst others, the action has the opposite effect.

However, Murray and Johansson craft wonderful, low-key chemistry here. Murray's subtle sarcasm and overall cynicism are downplayed but in force here, as he employs facial expressions that speak louder than words could. He fully shows how he can be a hilarious comic presence and a fascinating, real dramatic presence and merge the two in one project, proving nothing but great range and ability on his behalf. Johansson, who was only eighteen during the time this was being filmed, bears mannerisms and a self-assured aura that would be more expected from someone ten years older than her. Such lofty material is presented and she handles the task of not being too theatrical or obvious very well, and it's a performance that requires both actors to place a reliance on their body language and facial expressions. This was by no means an easy role for Johansson, yet she breaks out with it and becomes a force all her own.

Lost in Translation details a difficult time in a person's life and, in the process, doesn't sugarcoat it. The lack of human connection and the feelings of hopelessness, regardless of short-term or long-term, are debilitating to a person, and this film goes on to show to reiterate my idea about life: if we didn't have at least one of these things - a passion, a good relationship with family, or close friends and people to connect with - we would jump out a window.

Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanna Ribisi, and Anna Faris. Directed by: Sofia Coppola.
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6/10
Little more than a "mood" piece
dmgrundy16 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard, at first, to fathom why this film is so successful - perhaps it's because people think they've seen a 'meaningful' film - it lacks violence, sex (apart from a brief, off-screen reference and another brief scene in a strip club), swearing, and a clearly delineated plot, unfolding in a leisurely, low-key, melancholy, soporific fashion. So sure, it's not M:I3, but that doesn't automatically make it high art, or even a particularly good film, either. Too often Coppola seems content to let the camera sweep smoothly over night-life shots of Tokyo, or linger over Johanssen and Murray's serious faces, with perhaps some music sweeping over to make one think one's watching something 'meaningful.' (In fact, surprisingly for a woman director, Coppola seems to exploit the (admittedly beautiful) Johanssen somewhat - a long amount of time is spent in which the camera gazes on her, often partially clothed (though not nude or bare-breasted), and I was particularly troubled by the opening shot of her behind, which seems to have very little to do with the rest of the film apart from offering titillation for the audience.) The dialogue, which could have saved the movie, often fails to live up to expectations - the central scene, mentioned by another reviewer, where Murray and Johanssen are lying next to each other on the bed, and he gives her his thoughts on life, is quite touching, but he doesn't end up saying anything of much significance, just some bland generalisations about life/experience, and we never really get too many character insights. It's too elusive, too much concerned with surface, despite the fact that so many of its fans praise it for going deeper than most blockbusters. At times I felt I was watching an extended commercial, of the kind that seem prevalent nowadays - seductive visual images with meditative music transposed over the top, calming in a new age meditation kind of a way, but ultimately not saying much.

Here's a brief summary of the movie: Johanssen is bored and lonely in Tokyo because her husband (a photographer) is away all the time and thinks she is a snob. She's not sure what to do with her life after completing her philosophy degree at Yale, and wanders around the city, aimlessly searching for meaning. Murray is a washed-up film star doing whiskey commercials in Japan for a week. His phone conversations with his wife reveal a seemingly warm relationship, though as the film continues it becomes clear that he's going through something of a mid-life crisis; she's wrapped up in the kids and the trappings of domesticity (seen in the faxes she sends through about shelves and carpets), he's almost not needed, and life has lost some of its spark. Fairly predictably, he tries to rekindle with Johanssen, though - thank God - platonically. (In fact, this was one of the best aspects of the film - it resisted the temptation to become a romantic drama and instead enabled a slightly more perceptive look at human relationships in general. Probably the falsest part of the film was when Murray slept with another woman - it felt contrived and added little to plot or atmosphere.) In the end, though, he has to return to his family, Johanssen has to continue her search for meaning alone, and Murray's biggest act of rebellion is telling his wife he wants to start eating Japanese food. The problem is, they feel so aimless anyway that it's hard to feel too much sympathy for them - they're rich, with access to facilities which millions across the world could only dream of, and both have loving (if perhaps distanced) spouses - it could be argued that Coppola's analysing the emptiness at the heart of modern society, despite its wealth and power, but because the film is so elusive, it never really manages to summon itself up to SAY something - though it gives the impression that the viewer has been through something meaningful. Another problem is the treatment of the Japanese, which, as several other reviewers have noted, rarely rises beyond fairly cheap comical stereotyping - a far more potent analysis of the lack of understanding between cultures and the barriers constructed by language and custom could have been undertaken which would have added a whole layer of meaning to the film that, as it is, is only hinted at (as much by the title as anything).

There were many ideas, themes and threads only hinted at in the film, which, if developed further, could have ensured the experience that so many seem to think this already is. As with much contemporary artistic product, I feel that people are quick to praise LIT as wonderful because it so much as touches on deeper themes, whether or not it fully realises them or develops them in a convincing way. What should really be the benchmark should be art that actually succeeds in not just suggesting ideas beyond the vapidity of the mainstream, but carries them through and causes us, for example, to take a fresh look at the familiar (as opposed to us just leaving the cinema and saying 'how beautiful, how thought-provoking, how ARTISTIC, it must be a masterpiece').
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9/10
breath taking
jaska-718 January 2005
A lot of my friends told me the movie was dull and had no story line. However, i thought it was a moving story about love and relationships and life in general. I believe if people watched the movie they'd like it more for the subtle brilliance that prevails. The roles played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson performed flawlessly with enough emotion as necessary. It will now be one of my favourite films though not action - packed it is a masterpiece of emotion and through the use of clever cinematography enthrals the viewer. I would suggest this is more of a chick flick though I'm sure most men will understand the true emotion of the film.
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1/10
Lost in my hotel room
LtnRipley29 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Lets go to japan and hang around in different parts of the hotel.

Then lets go out to the street and see, "whoa, this is different from America"!

People don't talk English! Signs are not in English! People sing karaoke! People eat different food than in America!

OK, lets go back to hotel room, and talk about our relationship that has lasted two days, and if we should go back to America. After all, that's where the family is.

I decided, we are going back to America, it is a better place after all.

This trip to japan was very educating, the view from my hotel room was great.
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10/10
Sleepless in Tokyo
jotix10025 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
What happens when one arrives in Tokyo after an extremely from a long flight? Either one goes to sleep, or one ends up with a severe case of insomnia, as Bob Harris, finds out to be the case. What does one do when one is trying to catch up on some badly needed sleep in a foreign hotel? One watches television. But what if the language is Japanese and one can't comprehend a word of what is being said? One heads for the bar, if it is open, and proceed to get drunk and get into trouble...

Such is the premise of Ms Coppola's incredible incisive film. It's curious how she has gotten inside the character of Bob Harris. She knows him very well. It is to her credit that she has balanced all the right elements to come out with this magnificent film that has a look of someone with a lot of film experience behind.

I was not a fan of her previous film, The Virgin Suicides, but this one has its heart in the right place. She really knows what she is doing, which, for a second time film director to have achieved, it's a lot.

Ms Coppola has been able to get magnificent performances from her two principal actors: Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. Bill Murray, above all is perfection personified. His take on this has been Hollywood actor, Bob Harris, is so true that it hurts. There are layers upon layers that Mr. Murray brings to his portrayal of this lonely man who has seen better days, and now has to go make commercials in Japan to make a living since probably no one at home remembers him.

On the other hand, the Charlotte of Scarlet Johansson is a triumph as well for this young actress. She exudes such an intelligence that one might think she is a much older person than what she really is. She is in a hopeless situation married to a photographer who obviously is in his own little world to realize what a precious gift he has in his wife.

It is inevitable that these two lost souls are drawn into each other in this strange place where they don't seem to even fit. The film is a bittersweet comedy. Bob and Charlotte communicate in ways they don't seem to be able to talk with their own spouses. The attraction is mutual. One can see they belong together despite the age difference. At the end there is a hint that maybe they will be united after all.

Ms Coppola's view on the culture differences are hysterical. Her take on the Japanese may not be politically correct, but it makes a lot of sense in the context of having the tables turned on the Americans that are in that country making millions, and never taking a moment to try to understand what is in front of them. It is only Charlotte who shows a spirit of adventure in enjoying the magnificent scenery of Kyoto and other religious sites in Tokyo.

Great things are in store for the viewer in future films directed by Sofia Coppola, I am sure.
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1/10
The worst film I have ever seen
lhagge5 October 2003
I should preface this review by saying that my husband and I both have advanced degrees, and we see 50+ independent films a year. So filmic subtlety is not lost on us. We drove for an hour through horrendous traffic to see this highly-rated film, yet this is the only movie in 25 years of adult moviegoing that we have ever walked out of. It reminded me of the worst excesses of 60's French New Wave. Long stretches of people staring. Long stretches of silence and monosyllables. More long stretches of loud noise and incomprehensible voices. Short cut-in scenes that advanced the story (what there was of it) and characters not a bit. We get it; we get it--these people are ALIENated. Big deal.

Can I care about two people who are supposed to be intelligent, yet they can't think of a thing to do to amuse themselves in one of the world's major cities? Can I believe in a young woman who's supposed to be a recent philosophy graduate of Yale, who can't think of anything to do with her time but stare out the window of her expensive hotel? Can I believe this same young woman came to Tokyo with her working husband, yet seems totally at a loss when he actually leaves to work? Can I believe that someone who is interested in philosophy so much that she majors in it in college can only be happy bar hopping, dancing, smoking weed, and singing karaoke? Can I believe that a faded Hollywood star who is being paid 2 million dollars for a commercial would come to Tokyo absolutely alone, without even an aide of any kind?

And most of all, can I call a film that does nothing more than follow these two hapless and uninteresting people around for several days without a trace of drama or art profound?

I think not. Don't waste your money. This is one of those rare instances when I can only conclude that there is some vast critical conspiracy to hoodwink the American public. Surprise! The emperor has no clothes.
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1/10
Lost in Boredom
luvbuniz2 March 2004
I was appalled that Sofia Coppola won an Oscar for her drab screenplay. First of all, the characters were unsympathetic and out of touch with the world. An actor receiving 2 million for a few days work and a directionless Yale student tagging with her photographer boyfriend. I doubt many of us here have the privilege to be bored in the most expensive hotel in Japan.

The stylized ennui of the whole pic was so pretentious. Scarletts panty shots and staring at the window didn't elevate or convey any emotion at all. I really had to force myself awake at times when the whole film veered into an extended travelogue or a home movie. I kept on waiting for the nonexistent plot to arrive.

Finally, the 'crocodile dundee' style racism showing the Japanese as one dimensional morons or subservient. The prostitute scene was a cheap play for laughs. Much like, most of the Japanese scenes which were the 'look at the wacky Japanese' variety with the help of Bill's snide comments. If Sofia wanted to portray loneliness and isolation, she could have easily done it without the racist undertone.
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1/10
Lost in Transasian
milesfides22 September 2003
Wow. Kind of a 'cute' movie, riding on that independent film vibe of the individual's search of meaning in life, struggling mightily against an ignorant and heavily cynical world. Sounds like a downer? Never fear, this movie spends 85 percent of the time making fun of japanese people.

If these were scathing attacks, perhaps this movie could almost pass as parody, making fun of stereotypes by overkill is quite effective. Except these were literally, 'let's make fun of the Japanese as bizarre little benign aliens who want to become like us.' This is about two white people trying to have fun in an alien land, shaking their heads at the ridiculous customs of these funny little people, marvelling at how the Japanese could be so different from our own sensible caucasian perspectives. There is no japanese character in this movie who is not grossly caricaturized. Also, whenever Sofia Coppola directed a long lull in the film, hey, insert reocurring joke about height/accents/culture and make the audience laugh, again! There is no such thing as a tired joke in this movie, some jokes are methodically inserted every 15 minutes.

Actually, it's really worthwhile to watch Sofia Coppola deftly direct the profoundly subtle relationship between a 21-year-old yale philosophy major and a washed-up 55-year-old actor. Sure...they both...don't like their lives, do like to drink at the bar, eat food (hey at least no more jokes about monkey brains, huh? good thing this wasn't a korean movie), crack jokes about the japanese! The movie should have the tagline, "How any two white people, no matter how different in age and personality could become soulmates once thrust into this horrible technologically advanced but spiritually backwards world." Or "Peter Pan and Wendy in Captain Hook's Oriental Nevernevernightmare." This movie can be metaphorically summarized by how any two people can fall in love on a deserted island, a deserted island full of poisonous snakes, fetid water, quicksand, and erupting volcanoes.

I challenge anybody in the world,including any type of funny little aliens, to logically prove that the particular setting of Japan was necessary to the plot of the movie. Would the relationship between Bill M. and Scarlett J. be any different, if say, it took place in manhattan? Absolutely not, but we wouldn't have the 'comedy' aspect of the movie. And what makes it comedic? Are you laughing at comedy, or are you laughing at the Japanese, these common, stereotypical jokes? I challenge somebody to find any shot in this movie of a japanese person (or perhaps apes in japanese costumes) who isn't acting silly or over the top, as part of a joke, a joke in which the japanese are the being punched by the line.
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1/10
What?
gwillms26 January 2004
This film just further proves that I simply do not understand film critics. Lost in Translation is horrible. What exactly is this thing supposed to be about? Nothing happens. The characters do not develop, change, or even engage in anything relatively interesting. I don't need a movie to enjoy a "snippet of life", all I have to do is look around me. If there's supposed to be a message in this movie, it's either way beyond my comprehension, or it's simply "people that are unhappy and alone sometimes find others to share their misery with". I'd like to find someone to share my misery after watching this debacle of a film. Sure, the scenery is sometimes pretty, but that's Japan's fault, not Coppola's. It manages to be effective in spite of her, not because of her. 1 star out of 5.
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1/10
The cinematic equivalent of The Emperor's New Clothes
Michael Kenmore26 December 2007
Imagine hearing the major critics on the top of the roof on the skycraper sing boisterous praise for one of the five hundred 'qualified masterpieces', and Lost in Translation somehow received the honor bestowed on Sofia Coppola and company. Big mistake.

Lost in Translation is one of these movies that at first you might be seeing a terrific movie, but as it progress it become drab, droll and tedious without justification in substance. There's really no story to speak of -- only paper-thin basic with inanely banterous dialogue.

There may be a merit in cinematography that raise the artistic value of this movie, but because the story is non-existent and the characters utterly unsympathetic & boring to watch, cinematography -- stationary in some scenes and moving in others -- somehow negate the enjoyability of the movie by focusing on the ludicrous aspect of tedium as if Sofia could bring back the element of silence inspired by silent films of the early 20th century.

Lost in Translation (er, Sofia) abuse the silence element as the expression of meaning when it really add *nothing* of substance to the aesthetics of the movie, artistic or otherwise. It's utterly meaningless if one does not understand the express purpose of silence at the right moment to convey the humanistic value of life in the hectic and modern world. Sofia is being altruistic to the detriment of the audience when it comes to the vanity of the characters as portrayed Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson which generated zero empathy that makes the movie even less interesting to watch in a continuous manner without becoming fidgety or letting out relaxing yawn. There's nothing of interest what happen to the main characters and why should the audience give a care.

Sofia made the blunders in filming and keeping the scenes from the fate of being tossed into the cutting room trash bin that are particularly unintentionally humorous in being unabashedly pretentious or idiotically embarrassing. Like the English pronunciation-mangling Japanese hooker in the hotel room and the pointless, unromantic conversations with Bill & Scarlett characters who somehow fall in love while possessing ice-cold personalities that would make Mr. Freeze blush in humbled shame. And the movie moves in the glacial pace that makes it atrocious to watch -- it is the cinematic exercise in tedium for the sake of artistic expression, without tightening up. It drags on and on until the audience feel nothing but contempt for the characters and especially the screenwriter/director responsible for torture by mean of boring the audience to death.

Sofia once mentioned her favorite movie director is Terrence Malick. Mr. Malick is a completely different filmmaker who knows how to convey the meaning of silence in the poetic setting because Malick has experience observing nature and human qualities as a former philosophy professor & translator. Sofia did not because she doesn't get the aesthetics combined with silence without the backbone of a rich story and characterization. The Virgin Suicides, Sofia's debut movie, is well-made and competent, but Lost in Translation is such a trainwreck in terms of lackluster substance & poor, drag-on editing that lend to experiencing boredom. This boredom probably reflect the period of boredom at certain points of her life, and she parlay that experience as a form of torture to inflict the mental anguish of tedium on the audience in vengeance.

Scarlett Johannson and Bill Murrey, while accomplished movie actors in their right, do the barest minimum except mug to the camera in the aura of exulting "Sundance Film Festival" self-importance that elevate this movie to the new level (more like bottom 100) in high art, with moronically sedate monotony & meandering tedium thrown in. Bill's acting is nothing special save comedy and Scarlett is moderately competent but technically bad in dramatic acting (which makes it a safe bet she'll never be nominated for Best Actress Oscar in her lifetime, UK's BAFTA Best Actress award clinch for subpar, vacant, minimalist acting style partially blamed on Sofia's tepid, fumbling directional style & a future hard-*** director demanding spectacular acting notwithstanding).

Frankly, I do not know how Lost in Translation screenplay appealed to Scarlett and Bill Murray. It may be a character study, but does it delve into humanities, psychology and philosophy? No. It's more like a staid travelogue populated with non-descript characters that say absolutely nothing but dumb banter then fade to the pretty backdrop with the main characters wandering for a few minutes too long. This script won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for nothing but silence, banter, silence, banter, silence, inaudible whisper, fade to end? When the critics claim the movie have substance that the audience could not spot and decipher and call us stupid for being oblivious, I say the true design of Lost in Translation is that it is an introvertible proof The Emperor's New Clothes carry a valid allegory that apply to Sofia's vapid, utterly worthless filmflam that, next to Corey Haim's 1989 video diary "Me, Myself & I", might serve as an ideal audio-visual torture device. Because Sofia wants the audience to experience what she endured, and so we the viewers get the taste of her bitter medicine of a puerile existence, similar to what Vincent Gallo did with the cheerfully self-indulgent "Buffalo 66".

Zero star out of four
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1/10
extremely boring
superpotts24 February 2004
I was watching this movie and it came to a point where it had dragged on so long that I was anxious for it to be over, so I checked the time and only fifteen minutes had passed since the beginning of the movie. I spent money to rent it so I kept watching it for another 45 minutes...still no plot after an hour. I would say what the movie is about, but I don't know that it's really about anything. It's a conglomeration of pointless scenes that don't make up a story. I was expecting a great film considering it's 8.0 ranking here at imdb, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how one person would think this movie is in any way good, let alone fifteen thousand. This one has apparently done well at the film festivals, so that should be enough of a sign to steer clear of it. Indie movies are indie for a reason...they suck. This is a great one to rent if you struggle with insomnia.
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1/10
Sterile and pretentious
raphal15 September 2004
Are you familiar with the agony of having to confront most of your friends with your (very) negative assessment of a movie everyone loves? It never hit me so hard as with Lost in Translation, a sad monument to vanity and contempt. Two aspects of that film made it particularly unpleasant: the use of clichés, and the very poor tailoring of scenes.

I suppose the foggy poetry of the title explains the distance with which everything is filmed, and the particularly painful impression that everything taking place on the screen is in fact happening behind a bullet-proof window. Every time something a little significant threatens to occur (physical or verbal contact between the two main characters, a twist in the plot...), the scene is cut short. Now I very well understand that this may be considered a rather clever technique, and I can appreciate the understated aesthetics of it all, but this is going too far, and turns into a farce: we're asked to PRETEND that something meaningful is taking place between the scenes, or inside the character's heads. What a fraud.

Now back to the multitude of clichés that are used throughout the movie, particularly to depict the Japanese, cultural and everyday Japan, but also show-business relationships, what happens after 20 years of marriage, expatriates, the shallow side of young and successful Americans, etc. This is a feature that many people commended, arguing that it was a rather subtle, elegant and ironic treatment of the issue of cultural shock in particular and inter-cultural contact in general. I only see contempt for the world at large, a very crude perception and rendering of other human beings, and a terribly self-indulgent narration technique. No effort of understanding each snapshot, nor any attempt to brush an overall picture: what was the point?!

All in all, I did not enjoy this movie. Except during the very rare moments of humor ("for relaxing time, make it Suntory time"), it was not pleasant at all to watch. 1/10
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9/10
Like a dip in the ocean on a cold winters night.
messyshirt_115 August 2013
That is how I perceive lost in Translation, a cold, time stopping, gut wrenching moment in time where it is just between you and the water.

But Lost In Translation itself wasn't cold or gut wrenching, it was an experience like no other in cinema, the movie hardly seems to move along; as if stopped in time and allows the 2 main characters to flow freely in this strange, unknown even daunting environment which is Tokyo.

What makes this film work so well? It requires nothing but Bill Murray (Bob Harris) and Scarlett Johansson (Charlotte something) to find a relationship based of each other's loneliness and subsequent choices in life that lead them to a particular moment in life which is ending up in Tokyo to fulfill a certain obligation, neither of which are joyful in doing so. The age difference between the two means there's no silly love chemistry, neurotic breakups or overly-dramatic events occurring throughout the film, which some have found to be particularly boring. But certainly not me, these two characters alone are able to support this film the whole way through with just a bond between each other than thats why Lost in Translation is like no other film.

These two bond so well together throughout the film with experiences so down to earth yet in turn so uplifting when these two characters experience these to occasions together. Charlotte and Bob are both complete strangers in Tokyo, thats what makes the relationship with them work so well, the essence of surprise when not knowing another individual makes the movie that much more better to watch, from one scene to the next rather than learning about Bob or Charlotte we view them learning about one another from their perspectives.

By the end of the film both performances from Johansson and Murray were equaled and satisfying, both showing the glory this film set out to have, and to that, hats off to Sofia Coppola for making such a wonderful film that was driven by effortless timing and character driven emotion.
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1/10
Two hours gone from my life that I will never get back
devrock2 August 2007
I am an introvert who has felt longing and sought meaning, but I still found this film boring. Like so many films, it started out alright. There were some funny parts, like when Bill Murray was trying to use the exercise machine. Then the film died, and we had to stare at its corpse for an hour. Did they really have to show every performance at the karaoke? Talk about a scene that should have ended up on the cutting room floor! I would rather have watched paint dry.

In response to another reviewer: No, I am not a die-hard Disney or Sci-fi addict. I do not need explosions, guns, CGI effects, or rampant sex. There is no way I am going to sit down and watch this film again. Forget it. I am in touch with my feelings. I am deeply sensitive. As far as how westerners view Japan, please speak for yourself. I don't think Japanese people are "bizarre."
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1/10
Horrible
i-r-habets3 February 2004
Geez, what a horrible movie this is. An incredibly stupid, predictable, as thin as ice plot, very very outdated, silly and insulting jokes about Japanese, and an actress that probably suits better in Sesame street. Bill Murray, maybe two or three (non-insulting) funny jokes and a Sex Pistols (well, as a karaoke act) song made that I managed to endure it. Don't watch it, it's a waste of your time.
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1/10
amazingly bad
123abcm30 January 2004
I have seen some truly awful films in my life, but this scrapes the bottom of the barrel.

It's as if a bunch of film-school try-hards were sent to Japan, without a script, and told to produce the most pointless cinematic experience possible. Partway throught the film, these film-school rejects meet a representative from the Japanese Tourist Board who pays them to insert further meaningless 'postcard' views of Japan.

So, what could I learn from this film? - Gee, aren't the Japanese quirky and strange - Gee, isn't it difficult when I am in another country and I can't speak the language - Gee, isn't it strange that I feel alienated when I am in another country and make no effort to genuinely appreciate the culture or people - Gee, even shallow people can 'connect' when they meet other shallow people and decide to have a good whinge.

The most insulting part of this whole mess is that it is currently rated, on this website, as the 175th best movie of all time.

I weep for humanity.
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