Lost in Translation (2003)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Lost in Dreamland

We all have those films that are backlogged so deep into our “meaning to get to” list that never seem to find the light of day. They may be backlogged, but they certainly aren’t typically preferred. Once you get around to watching them, they may surprise you and be astonishing, awful, or somewhere in between. One of the films on my list was Lost in Translation, which I have heard good things about, but never really got around to watching it. Maybe it never really interested me. So today, I took the plunge and dug into that backlog. How was my experience…eh…bittersweet.

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a washed out and married movie actor that took a $2 million gig in Tokyo, Japan to endorse a special whiskey. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) lives in the same hotel as him, and is also married. Both Charlotte and Bob have a similar lifestyle that includes drinking at the bar because they feel a sense of…emptiness about themselves. They can’t sleep, they’re just going day by day…as routine as you can possibly imagine. Well after they meet, they kind of…fill that void in each other and go out and have fun among other people that they can’t even understand. They are, in the literal sense, lost in translation.

This is an interesting case of the fish-out-of-water theme. Yeah, Bob is out of his element and sticks out like a sore thumb, but the same applies for Charlotte…so it is more effectively explained as two fish out-of-water. So that, along with many other aspects of this film, is rather unique. They took the whole translation bit perfectly literal, which added to a bit of awkward and sarcastic humor that really zested the film into its own thing. My problem arose on the level of entertainment the film really had to offer, which is huge on how I critique a film.

Lost in Translation was dare I say it, boring. It’s hard to say that, because a lot of the film was honestly done perfectly right. It had beautiful scenery and honest friendships that in a way…relied on each other to learn and grow. The humor was honestly effective, however dry it may have been. I just thought there needed to be more humor along with other things. The problem I faced was that it could end one way or another and it wouldn’t make much of a difference for me as a viewer. There came a point in this film where nothing they did could have made me enjoy it any better. Like I said, I respected the hard work put into it, because they really did a lot right, I just wasn’t digging it as a whole.

The acting was honestly superb, but I can’t in all honesty say I bought the chemistry between Murray and Johansson. Why? Well, it wasn’t like they had much of a choice but to befriend each other…in that way, it felt a bit forced. There was no one else around for them to really be friends with but each other. Now, in way I understand it, because other than both being American, they also had incredibly similar characteristics, which is why they got along so well…okay I’ll give. I won’t, however, believe in this whole romantic chemistry they were trying to sell…it’s not like anything really happened between the two, but there were hints here and there of jealousy, and tension near the end…I just didn’t buy it. I can’t see Bill Murray with Scarlett Johansson; that just seems completely ludicrous, I’m sorry.

I have seen worse in the chemistry department, so I should dog on the movie completely, but for me it took away from the experience to think they were being flirtatious. I don’t know…for me I just found the movie as a whole drowsy because I had no real purpose to keep watching it.


One thought on “Lost in Translation (2003)

  1. Nice review Dave. It may be too slow and melodic for some, but it hit a perfect spot with me, offering comedy, and all sorts of drama to mix. What a great movie, and one of Murray’s greatest performances.


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