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“Lost in Translation.” A film that has been comforting me for over 10 years.

December 24, 2013

“Lost in Translation” is one of my all-time favorite movies. When people ask me about my favorite films, I am most likely to first mention this one. Most folks have not heard of it. Those who have seen it report having had mixed reactions. Some have liked it, and some have not. Nobody I’ve talked with about this movie has mentioned liking it as much as I do.

The movie doesn’t have much of a plot, and doesn’t need much of a plot to be wonderful. The story is very simple. It’s about two people, and their friendship.

The two main characters are Bob, played by Bill Murray, and Charlotte, who is played by Scarlett Johansson. Bob is a famous actor, and is in Japan to do an advertising campaign for Suntory Whiskey (which is actually a real brand of whiskey. I just learned that a few minutes ago when I looked it up). It is common for famous American actors and actresses to avoid doing commercials that air in the US. However, I’ve heard they feel less hesitant to appear in commercials and print advertisements that appear in other countries. So.. off goes Bob to Japan to promote some whiskey.

Charlotte is a young woman who is married to a famous, overly busy photographer named John, played by Giovanni Ribisi. He takes pictures of actors, rock stars, and other celebrities. He’s constantly running off to do photo shoots in many parts of Japan. Charlotte is left alone in the Park Hyatt Tokyo building, where Bob is also staying.

Bob deals with such things as an incredibly inept translator, an awkward photo shoot and an even more awkward filming of a TV commercial. In the commercial scene, there’s a lot of yammering in Japanese, and there are no subtitles. We, the audience, are meant to feel the confusion and frustration Bob feels. His translator tells Bob only a fraction of what the director is saying.

Bob is also dealing with being away from his wife, who he talks with on the phone. He probably feels a bit lost without her, but doesn’t feel very good about the marriage either. He and his wife have been married 25 years, and the marriage is not entirely satisfactory. The movie doesn’t get into why. It seems some married people just get tired of each other.

Charlotte is trying to cope with loneliness and confusion. She misses her husband when he is gone, but also is seriously questioning their marriage. They have been married for two years, and she is wondering why she made the decision to marry John.

Charlotte and Bob meet in the hotel bar, and become friends. Charlotte recognizes Bob, because he is a movie star. She is sitting at a table with some other people, but is growing bored with them, and has a waiter send over a drink to Bob. Later, they start talking with each other in the bar, in another scene.

Surprisingly, they do not become lovers. This is something I really like about the film. It does not take the usual Hollywood plot turn.. old famous guy bedding the young woman. Nope. They are friends. The movie is about them finding each other, and spending a few days and nights together, exploring Tokyo, sharing drinks, and hanging out with some of Charlotte’s Japanese pals. Charlotte finally is able to get past her loneliness, and ventures out into the city. She feels better about doing so, because she has Bob to bring along with her.

The movie is almost entirely dialog. There are also scenes of Tokyo and other parts of Japan. During some of these scenes, no one is talking. We take in the beauty.

There is much excellent music in this film, but almost none of it is Japanese. There are many ’80’s alternative tunes, and some more recently composed music. It all goes perfectly with the scenery. This movie, is, for the most part, truly beautiful.

The movie is very clean except for a few scenes. Early in the film, a middle-aged, classy but very odd prostitute shows up at the door of Bob’s hotel room. He is surprised to see her. He did not order a prostitute. She just shows up, and says, “Mr. Kawzu sent me.” We never find out who Mr. Kawzu is. This scene with the prostitute is not very raunchy. It is definitely odd, and funny.

There is only one scene that has nudity in it. This scene should not have been in the film at all. Almost all of the film is lovely.  Not this part though. For some reason I don’t know, after Charlotte and Bob have been friends for a day or two, they decide to meet in a tiny strip club. A rather nasty rap track is playing, and there is a stripper dancing. This scene is why the movie got the R rating.

Why get an R rating? I read somewhere years ago that films that have an R-rating generally make more money than those that don’t. Times have changed. PG-13 movies do very well these days. But, “Lost in Translation” is now 10 years old.

Another reason for this scene? I’m not sure. The movie was written and directed by Sofia Coppola, the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, the great director. FFC made such films as the Godfather series, and “Apocalypse Now.” FFC has never shied away from putting adult content in his films. But, FFC, to my knowledge, never made a tender, wistful film like this. This movie did not need a strip joint scene in it.

Other than that scene.. the movie could have been rated PG… maybe PG-13 for the scene with the prostitute. No violence, almost no foul language at all. Almost no other sexual content.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the opening scene, which is an extreme closeup of Charlotte’s backside, clothed in transparent pink panties. That, I think, was an odd way to open the movie. I suppose a close-up of Scarlett Johansson’s buttocks could earn a movie a PG-13 rating, but not an R rating. I did not find this view to be stimulating, and I don’t think it is even meant to be stimulating.

Out of all of Scarlett Johansson’s roles, this is my favorite. This is one of her early adult roles (she’d been in many films as a kid). When she made this film, she had not yet become such a sex symbol. Her character is not meant to be sexy. Scarlett even has a pot belly in this movie.

One thing I keep wondering about is this: is the character she is playing supposed to be pregnant? The character looks slightly pregnant, but this is never mentioned in the film. Maybe Sofia Coppola wanted Scarlett to look less sexy than she otherwise would, so she had Scarlett put on some extra weight before staring in this film. I don’t know. But, if you are insisting on only seeing Johansson when she looks really sexy, you’ll want to skip this movie.

I just love Johansson’s performance. So gentle and sad, and finally happy for a little while. Charlotte is my favorite female movie character. The main reason Scarlett Johansson is my favorite actress is because of her portrayal of Charlotte. It’s of the reasons I love this movie so much.

I don’t know if you will love this movie as much as I do. I’m wondering if you will find the movie worth watching.

I don’t know. If all you watch are big-time blockbusters (nothing wrong with those necessarily.. some of my favorite films are superhero movies and Tolkien films), and can’t handle subtle, gentle and understated roles by Murray and Johansson, you won’t like this movie.  If you want an epic love story, you will also not like this movie. The film is about an unlikely friendship between two people who appear to have very little in common.

I’m guessing that, since you are reading a blog, you are probably a person of above average intelligence (my guess is that stupid people don’t read or write blogs), who can appreciate a variety of films. Maybe this one.

Why do I love this movie, even after seeing it over 20 times?

Besides the reasons I already mentioned.. the acting, the visuals, the music..  I saw the film during a time in which I was very much interested in Japan. For years, I studied Japanese culture, watched travel films and many documentaries. I watched several Japanese movies, studied Zen Buddhism, tried an Aikido (Japanese martial art) class, and learned a few phrases in Japanese. So.. of course I would like the film more than people who have no interest in anything Japanese.

But, even if you have had no interest in anything Japanese at all, you might still very much like this movie.

It is a drama with some humorous moments. Bill Murray is funny, but not so funny as in earlier films like “Ghostbusters.” Charlotte’s character is more serious than funny. She’s having a hard time.. well.. they both are, in their own ways.

And they are lost in various ways. There’s the words that get lost in translation. The two people are lost in their own marriages. They have to be careful not to get lost in Tokyo, which, I have read, can be a terribly confusing city to navigate. Even people fluent in Japanese and who can read Japanese get lost in Tokyo.

Charlotte is lost in another way. She has recently finished college, and is trying to figure out what to do with her life. Her husband has a career that keeps him busy. Charlotte has no career, and does not know what to do.

I often feel lost too. For me, this movie is therapy.

I have anxiety problems and some other serious issues. I often feel lost in my own life. I’m always up late, alone. Sometimes it is hard to get to sleep. I know what it is like to be up at 4 in the morning, feeling anxious and depressed. This movie comforts me. A lot.

The characters, besides being lost in several ways, are also alone at first. They both have trouble sleeping, and are awake late into the night, even when they don’t want to be. I relate to these characters. I don’t have any wonderful friendships, so I enjoy theirs.

And I love the music, and the sites, and the excellent performances by everyone in the film. Yes, besides the strip joint scene, the movie really is wonderful. It has gotten me through many days, and even more nights, when I have felt especially worried, unsettled, or down. I am SO grateful for this film.

I have no idea what your reaction to this movie will be. Watch the trailer below, and see what you think.

It might just be your time to get lost in this movie. I hope you love it.

Thanks for reading.

47 Comments leave one →
  1. aimi permalink
    December 24, 2013 1:45 AM

    Reblogged this on Lost in The World Map.

    • tomschronicles permalink
      January 1, 2014 3:06 AM

      Thank you! Glad you like the post.

  2. March 15, 2014 2:23 AM

    Oh my God, now I feel like I’m stalking you! I really loved this movie as well! Maybe not as much as you…..watched, enjoyed and moved on but definitely a great movie. Was closing my windows and the name caught my eye! hahaha Are you me? The answer BTW is yes.
    You’re lucky…no poem for this one.

    • tomschronicles permalink
      March 16, 2014 1:55 AM

      Glad you loved the film! Most of my favorite movies are underrated films that many people have not even heard of. I’ll write a post about that.. maybe soon.

      There are certain films and TV shows I watch over and over again.. great therapy.

      I really liked the “are you me?” part of your comment. Fits in with what I was writing about pantheism and interconnectedness. What you wrote made me think of a certain Beatles song. I looked it up on google, did a bit of research, learned some interesting things, and wrote a post about the song.

      • March 16, 2014 3:27 AM

        Yeah, I read & enjoyed your post. I reckon John would realise from his enlightened position that it’s all good (no bad guys) just people coming together for the experience. Even his prank in the song backfired – someone always gets something out of it. Haha

  3. June 20, 2014 6:44 PM

    I loved this film SO much! Most of the people I talk about the cinema with have heard about it (but I blame it on being European and living here), but hardly anyone felt as strongly about it as I did. It is still comforting me after I watched it several times over the years (even at this exact moment, as it’s the best film about jetlag I’ve ever heard of, and I can’t sleep).

    • tomschronicles permalink
      June 22, 2014 12:45 AM

      Do you mean lots of people in Europe are aware of good films? Not quite sure what you mean, the “I blame it on being European and living here” part.

      I’m so glad you love the film. I rarely find people who like this movie as much as I do. Most people I mention it to haven’t heard of it. I think maybe Europeans are a lot more sophisticated than most Americans, and will have seen or at least heard of small, excellent films like this (by small, I mean not a massive blockbuster with lots of special effects. I like some of those, but I like these kinds of movies too).

      There’s another film set in Japan you might like. It’s in Japanese with subtitles, and is called “Departures.” It’s a bit morbid in parts, but sweet, funny at times, and well worth watching. I think I’ll write a post about it later.

      Thanks very much for your comment!

      • June 26, 2014 2:46 PM


        About the Europeans, it was more of a joke, but I think there’s much more tradition of smaller festivals and less known films and directors get popular easier than in the US. Living in a European capital, I think the access to the alternative/not too blockbuster films is rather easy, and there are plenty of people sharing those interests, what’s great, too.

        Thanks for the recommendation! ‘Departures’ look interesting (and quite quirky), so I’ll definitely have a look.

      • Thai permalink
        June 26, 2021 5:16 PM

        Im just also finished the film twice too,and also wonder why the director not trying to get the pg-13 ranting,cause due to imdb : this film got banned on malaysia ,and they cut it and turn it to a 18+ film (probably the strip club scence) ,and might in many other south east asia ,this might also got banned in other countries due to the nudity.This is kinna bad cause not everyone can enjoyed it

      • Tom Meninga permalink*
        June 30, 2021 11:15 AM

        Yes, it was a really bad idea. Thank you for letting me know how this film was rated and changed in Malaysia. That is interesting.

  4. tomschronicles permalink
    June 27, 2014 12:46 AM

    I bet I’d really like Europe. My aunt has traveled through Europe some.. many years ago. When she got back she told me that I have a personality that is more European than American. I think she is right. Living in America is great in so many ways, but I’d sure like to give Europe a try.

    Hope you like “Departures.” An odd film, but a very good one.

  5. September 12, 2014 11:48 AM

    I think the strip club scene is absolutely vital, and here’s why. Charlotte (and hence Bob) is invited there to meet her Japanese pals, who she knows through her pre-occupied husband. They’d gone out to see them before and had a great time, but that night they both feel the same repulsion as the viewer once they meet up in the club. Charlotte and Bob are distanced even from there Japanese friends now, so all they have is each other. They go back to the hotel, and their evening ends with the scene that sees them both lying on the bed and gently pouring their hearts out to each other. That scene’s tenderness, and the kiss (which somehow manages to remain platonic, to me anyway) at the very end, are the two bits that make the film for me.

    So yeah, I reckon the nudity’s necessary, and also proves the power of the film. In most other films I’d be thinking “great, titties!”, but by the time I see a pair in this film, I’m so involved with the relationship between Bob and Charlotte that I can only wince.

    Anyway I’m just passing through, looking for reviews for this film, so I probably won’t be able to come back to reply if you leave anything. This film’s pretty special to me too, to the point where I rarely get anyone else to sit down and watch it with me because I want to keep the joy private – I’m sure you understand. I know exactly what you mean when you describe it as therapy: perhaps paradoxically, getting lost in the friendship between the two characters has kept me sane more than a few times.

    I’ve never read your blog before but keep it up, and thanks for writing this.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      September 23, 2014 2:39 PM

      I disagree with you. I think the alienation of the two characters was already well established without the strip joint scene. Even alienation from Charlotte’s Japanese friends. I think the strip joint scene is in the film to add a bit more humour and abusurdity (which wasn’t needed.. enough of that in the film already) and because Sofia Coppola wanted an R-rating. She didn’t put any foul language in the script, so she had rap music with bad language accompanying a topless woman in a strip club.

  6. November 9, 2014 9:42 PM

    Ten years? Ten years! Wow. Aside from the fact I thought it was 3 or 4 years old I too love the film and was thinking it might be time to watch it again.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      November 9, 2014 9:53 PM

      I wrote this post in late 2013. The movie came out in 2003.. 11 years now. Yes, it is hard to believe, isn’t it? If you are up late, and want to wind down, this is an excellent movie to watch.

  7. March 12, 2015 12:25 PM

    Great review

    Keep it up 🙂

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      March 12, 2015 4:24 PM

      Thanks very much! I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

  8. Dan V permalink
    August 9, 2015 5:34 PM

    Hi there. Like you I have watched this movie many many times. It is so comforting. Often I just put it on at night and fall asleep to the music. I have never thought about it, but perhaps it is my favorite movie, although Platoon and Apocalypse Now are also right there for different reasons. Interesting the FFC connection and Lost In Translation. I also love Japanese culture, having studied in a Japanese Zen Dojo as a young man for a few months. One day I will make it to Japan in person.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      August 11, 2015 12:47 AM

      Yes, it is the best movie for late nights and relaxing..heading off to sleep.

      Other two favorites are Vietnam War classics? Those are both fantastic movies. Have you seen “Hearts of Darkness,” the making of “Apocalypse Now?” The documentary is as good as the film, I think. FFC pretty much lost his mind while making that film (for reasons I won’t get into, I don’t want to spoil the surprises), and has never been the same since.

      For many years I also loved Japanese culture.. watched many documentaries, checked out Japanese art, folk tales and language, studied Zen, watched some Japanese films.. there is one called “Departures” which you should see.. My interest in things Japanese faded eventually, but it sure lasted a long time.

      If you would like to read a funny book about Japan, try “Dave Barry Does Japan.” It was written by humorist Dave Barry many years ago, but is still worth reading.

      If you’d like to read an odd mystery set in Japan, try “Tokyo Suckerpunch.” It was good, but I don’t suggest reading the sequel though.

      Most people who are fortunate enough to visit Japan really love that country, so I have been told. I hope you will some day be able to make the journey to the land of the rising sun.

      Thanks for your comment.

  9. Bob permalink
    September 5, 2015 1:22 PM

    It’s a sweet movie about 2 people, by the mysticism of fate, find themselves in a foreign country, in the thick of an even more foreign culture, but beneath the seemingly harmless stereotypical racial humor (anything different is funny, right?) and catharsis from finding a friend in a place so frighteningly lonesome, there is a true aspect of the film that apparently has eluded pretty much everyone who has commented, including the OP; it’s a film about 2 xenophobic peeps in Japan; that’s why everything seems so funny when perceived in their presence (in particular, the arcade scene where the guy plays that tapping game while dancing- what’s wrong with that? If anything, it shows how liberating it can be to in Japan, but instead they decide to sulk and wallow in their exaggerated loneliness; I am pretty sure they are mentally deficient individuals who have at least anhedonia as one of their symptoms.), and why everything not about home appears so desperately bleak. And also, its all the more apparent of the Americans being the xenophobes that they are is the fact that they have only been there for a week at most! (according to Giovanni’s character, they are only in Japan for a week)

    All in all, it is a great a commentary using a modern communication medium about Americans being the insensitive and self-absorbed butts that they are (for instance, the sushi restaurant scene; just irksome, no wonder they are so lonely; with the title of movie being Lost in Translation, has it never occurred to the main characters to even once say: “Sorry, I don’t speak Japanese?”- of course not, they are far to prideful to even say to even utter such a line; typical.

    Aside from being a very educational film, it also serves as a comfort to those who find themselves alone in a different country, such that despite its raced progression of plot that when watched it fills its viewers with a sense of solidarity and a peace from knowing that they are no alone.

    Again, other than that, it’s a good film with good chemistry between the 2 main characters (hard to watch through the wincing in the earlier parts of the movie) that disguises itself as a profound study of the effects of being in a different country, but really comments on America during 2003 with things like affirmative action, the ability of Caucasians (largely Americans because of the insulated environment that majority of them are raised in) to exaggerate their emotions (for example, DSM-IV, the part about depression and ADHD, and romcom movies that strive to relate and shape the existing American culture), their xenophobia and their insensitivity. And yes, Charlotte is snotty that has no one else to lavish her with attention which is why she is so miserable until she finds an actor who has garnered a reputation only because of the action movies he has acted in.

    Awesome blog post, but slightly off the mark. And yes, Charlotte (a shot in the dark, but it surely hit something), you are very intelligent because you blog.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      September 6, 2015 1:42 AM

      Here are my responses.. please read all of them before submitting your reply.

      1.Who is the “OP?” What do these letters stand for?

      2. You call the two lead American characters xenophobic. No, they are trying their best to interact with the Japanese people they come in contact with. They naturally feel awkward among the Japanese, but do not feel afraid of, nor contempt for the Japanese. Much more on your remarks regarding xenophobia later.

      3. There is really some strong anti-American rhetoric in your comment! I wonder why. Are you an American who hates and/or feels quite superior to other Americans, or are you from another country, where American-bashing is quite fashionable?

      I would suggest that many Japanese are more xenophobic than Americans. Americans are often very good to those who visit from foreign countries. I live in a city that is a designated destination for refugees. There are a great many services in place to help these people. I’ve volunteered my time and energy to help them. So have many other Americans. I think America, being a nation of immigrants, is a less xenophobic nation than Japan.

      I have not been to Japan, but I have spoken with many non-Japanese people who have visited that country. Also, I’ve read about Japan, watched many documentaries, and studied Japanese culture and religion (primarily Zen Buddhism, but also Shinto). I have also gotten to know Japanese people while I was in college. You might think I’m totally clueless about Japan, but I’m not. Did you really think I’d let your comment about the 2 Americans being “xenophobic” slide, and not address the xenophobia of the Japanese?

      Many Japanese call non-Japanese “gaijin.” This word is translated as “foreigner,” “outsider,” and sometimes even “barbarian.” Some of the people I’ve talked who have visited Japan taught English there. Some of the teachers spent many years there, learned Japanese, etc. They were treated politely, but also always treated as outsiders. Most Japanese they encountered were very polite, and some were even kind, but still, the impression of the visitors was that the Japanese considered themselves superior to others. (There is even a social class of Japanese, called “Burakumin” who other Japanese despise, and feel xenophobic about).

      The superiority of the Japanese people above all others.. it was this belief that led the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, and otherwise try to take over the world. It is impossible to attempt to take over the rest of the world without harboring strong feelings of xenophobia. Hopefully, most Japanese do not think of themselves as superior to others anymore, but I am willing to bet some still feel that way (yes, many Americans feel that way too, I know that.. I am not one of those who feels that way).

      Do I think Japanese people are, in general, bad? Of course not. Do I think they are a somewhat xenophobic people, and more xenophobic than most Americans? Yes.

      4. Japanese society..liberating? Not if you are Japanese. Japanese society is highly conformist. Individuality is often frowned upon. They have a saying over there: The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

      5. It is my feeling that if a prestigious person is hired to come to Japan or any other country to do a job, it is the responsibility of people in the people of the host country to accommodate that person. A skilled, not comically inept, translator should have been provided for Bob Harris, Bill Murray’s character.

      6. Bob was very tolerant with his inept translator, the commercial director who only spoke in Japanese and yelled a lot, and the other Japanese people he interacted with.

      The only time he seemed like a jerk was when he was in the sushi restaurant with the conveyor belt. He was making a joke about how some Japanese incorrectly pronounce certain English words. “Brack toe,” instead of “black toe”), and joking about the food. He wasn’t doing this in a mean way.

      Did his jokes really seem incredibly insensitive to you? Charlotte also asks Bob why the Japanese mix up their L and R sounds, and Bob responds, “for yucks,” in other words, for fun, as a joke. Bob is being very mild in his humor, he is not being mean. Nor is he being serious. Charlotte asks a fair question. It is not insensitive for one American to ask another that question while they are speaking in private.

      7. Charlotte was never rude to any Japanese people. In fact, she had Japanese friends. She and her Japanese friends were very kind to each other.

      8. Feeling out of place in a country one has never been to before, and in which one’s native tongue is not commonly spoken, is a natural reaction. There is a difference between feeling awkward and “xenophobic.” I bring up this word again because you kept bringing it up.

      “Xenophobic” not only means fearful of people of another race, culture, etc., but also having dislike or contempt for, or prejudice against such people. Neither Bob nor Charlotte display any contempt or prejudice, etc. They are, as the title suggests, lost. Anyone who lands in a different country, especially a country that is so racially homogeneous as Japan, is going to feel very lost and alienated.

      9. Mentally deficient.. after reading all of your comment, I take it you mean Bob and Charlotte have serious and diagnosable problems. Maybe, and more on this in a moment. But for now.. Have you ever met a human being who is not “mentally deficient” in some way? Are you a supreme being? I kinda doubt it. I’m sure you are mentally deficient in some ways, just as I am. No one on this planet is mentally or otherwise perfect.

      Yes, the characters are “mentally deficient.” They are both suffering through unhappy marriages (this causes depression and other negative symptoms), dealing with serious insomnia, and feeling isolated in a country that is very foreign to them. Mentally deficient? Sure, but no more than anyone else would be when dealing with such circumstances. If these characters were perfect, they would not be interesting. Same goes for all of us.

      10.”Anhedonia” – the inability to feel pleasure. Maybe the two characters, because they are experiencing depression and insomnia, etc., are suffering from anhedonia during part of the film. However, there are scenes in which Bob and Charlotte are quite clearly enjoying themselves a great deal. Especially when they are out singing and dancing and running around with Charlotte’s Japanese friends.

      11. I think you are reading too much into the film. What does it have to do with Affirmative Action? Affirmative Action: people allowed to get into colleges and having access to jobs because of their race or gender, even though they are not qualified. (Even white people occasionally benefit from Affirmative Action. There are so many black students at the University of Tennessee that my brother’s friend, a white guy, benefits from being white, and has received scholarships and so forth, because he is white). Affirmative Action has been and is still very controversial in America. However, I don’t think this film has anything at all to do with Affirmative Action.

      Did you mean for your comment on Affirmative Action to be taken seriously, or were you throwing that in there just for fun, to see how I would react?

      12. Charlotte is not being “snotty.” She is depressed because she hasn’t been married very long, and already her husband John is turning out to be an insensitive jerk, leaving her alone in her hotel room while he is constantly working.

      Charlotte bonds with Bob because Bob is not a self-centered jerk. Bob is not like the white friends and co-workers of Charlotte’s husband, who actually are self-centered jerks.

      There’s a conversation a white rapper guy starts up with Charlotte. He is talking in hip-hop slang about his music and making various mouth noises. Then he finishes with the classic rapper/DJ question, “Ya know what I’m sayin’?” and Charlotte answers honestly.. “no.” That isn’t being snotty.

      Why does Charlotte seek out Bob?

      Bob is older, therefore probably perceived by Charlotte as sexually non-threatening (not likely to try and get with her, doesn’t seem like the dirty old man type), and looks to her like a nice man and an equally lonely human being. And yes, she probably enjoyed his movies. But I don’t think she seeks out Bob just because Bob is a movie star.

      Charlotte does not seek out Bob because she is “snotty.”

      There’s only one instance in the film when Charlotte seems a tiny bit snotty. John’s acquaintance, Kelly (played by Anna Faris) thinks that author Evelyn Waugh is a woman. If Charlotte were really snotty, she would have corrected Kelly, instead of waiting until Kelly left, then telling her husband that Evelyn Waugh was a man. Charlotte did not correct Kelly, and therefore avoided making Kelly feel stupid. Charlotte had a bit of a chuckle behind Kelly’s back.. that seems a tiny bit snotty I suppose, but so what. Far better that than embarrass Kelly.

      13. I do not understand why you are bringing up the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.. by the way, since May of 2013, it has been called the DSM-V, not DSM-IV. And, back in 2003, the current version was the DSM-IV-TR, which was published in 2000.

      You seem quite fixated on the dysfunction of the characters. Again, let me point out that if they were not dysfunctional, they would not be interesting, and we (well maybe not you, but most people who watch this film) would not relate to them.

      Now you are suggesting that the characters have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? I see no grounds for that. And if they do display symptoms of ADHD that I am not noticing.. I don’t care.

      14. “Romcoms that strive to relate and shape the existing American culture..” Do you believe all movies are designed to alter the fabric of American society? In some cases, I’d agree with you. Maybe you’re even right about some romantic comedies, I don’t know. But this film is definitely not an average romantic comedy.

      I think some filmmakers really aren’t as deep as you suspect they are. Many are not trying to change society, but instead just want to make movies, gain fame, get laid, otherwise enjoy themselves, and make money.

      15. Again, you are thinking the movie is deeper than it is. I do not think Sofia Coppola, who wrote and directed this film, meant it to be something that, in your words “disguises itself as a profound study of the effects of being in a different country.” Nor do I think Coppola meant the film to be about Affirmative Action, or all that psycho-babble you keep bringing up. There’s no way I could have ever imagined that someone commenting on this film would bring up the DSM-IV, and focus so intently on the instabilities of the characters in such a way as you did.

      16. “And yes Charlotte, you are very intelligent because you blog.” – What? Are you calling me Charlotte? Was that supposed to be a joke? I noticed the name you are using is Bob.. the name of Bill Murray’s character. I do have a sense of humor, but I don’t appreciate yours.

      17. Blogging is not necessarily a sign of intelligence. I’ve read some excellent blogs, and some horribly written ones as well.

      18. Bob.. it is you who are, as you put it, “off the mark.”

  10. September 10, 2015 11:50 PM

    I enjoyed your review of this movie and can say I also connect with this movie, though my connection came from the sound track because of Kevin Shields,

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      September 11, 2015 11:08 PM

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I too connected with this movie in part because of the excellent soundtrack.

  11. November 27, 2015 12:59 AM

    The commercial scene is amazing if you know what is being said between the director and the translator.
    Here’s the link for the translation.
    I’m so glad you wrote about this its my favorite movie of all time.
    I’m also a Japanese fan. ^_^

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      November 29, 2015 12:34 AM

      The link didn’t work.. I got an error message. That’s ok though. I kind of like not knowing, just as I like not knowing what Bob whispered to Charlotte at the end of the film.

      Thanks very much for your comment! This is one of my top five most popular posts. People read it everyday. I am glad there are so many fans of this wonderful movie!

      • Dan permalink
        November 29, 2015 8:43 AM

        If you take the L off at the end the link works.
        Interestingly enough I found myself on an overnight coach trip a few weeks ago and had forgotten my MP3 player with white noise wave backgrounds to block the noise. However I did have Lost in Translation on a memory card in my tablet to help soothe me to sleep.

    • Tom Meninga permalink*
      November 29, 2015 9:44 PM

      I did find my way to the site though. And, a great link to, where I can see amusing commercials celebrities have made in Japan. Very cool.

  12. tomschronicles permalink*
    November 29, 2015 9:49 PM

    And this is a reply to Dan. Thanks! But I think I’d still rather not know what the director was saying. Might make the scene less fun. Might make it more fun, I don’t know, but I think I’ll let that mystery be.

    Yes, I often have let myself be lulled into eventual sleep by this film. I never fell asleep while watching it, but watching it made me feel more calm late at night, and therefore able to sleep.

    I haven’t watched the movie in over a year, and it has been almost two years since I wrote the post. For awhile I lost interest in things Japanese, but I’m starting to get back into Japanese films and culture and religion. Also, my nerves are… somewhat frayed. I expect I’ll be viewing “Lost In Translation” yet again sometime soon.

    Thanks for your comment.

  13. Anonymous permalink
    February 24, 2016 1:19 AM

    Seriously understating the romantic chemistry between Murray and Johannson in this film. Interesting to see how you interpreted this movie as a feel-good friendship film while I saw it more as a tragic romance. Murray and Johannson feel a strong connection to one another as a result of their mutual existentialist concerns, but are too invested (perhaps wrongly so) in their lives and possibly, too concerned about the age and lifestyle differences between the two to pursue a romantic relationship. It’s not a traditional Hollywood love story in the sense that there’s nobody pursuing “the one that got away”, but it’s still very much about “the one that got away”.

    I also don’t agree with you about the strip club scene, I think it perfectly encapsulates the awkward, suppressed, strange, sexual tension between Murray and Johannson.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      February 27, 2016 11:51 PM

      Yes, you’re right, I didn’t write enough about the romantic chemistry.. even the sexual chemistry. It is clear they are both attracted to each other both romantically and physically, and feeling awkward about it. Also, in one scene, Charlotte is angry with Bob because Bob didn’t sleep with her.

      Yes, the strip club scene does symbolize the sexual tension between Charlotte and Bob. However, I think the sexual tension was obvious enough anyway, therefore, no strip club scene needed.

      You’re right that this film is tragic, but tragic in a good way.. very bittersweet, which, to me, feels good.

  14. July 10, 2016 1:26 PM

    Wow, I just read your take and the movie. I have to say you are my twin. I feel exactly the same.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      July 11, 2016 11:10 PM

      Cool! Thanks for letting me know!

  15. Carol Penha permalink
    August 1, 2016 8:19 AM

    I loved the movie, how sensititve it is and your way to feel and see it! Thanks for sharing this with us! (:
    (I could write much more, but I think I would be very repetitive, people above me already said all! hahah)
    Hugs from Brazil (:

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      August 2, 2016 11:01 PM

      I’m very glad you love the movie! Thanks very much for your comment! It’s quite nice to get visitors from other countries! Hugs from Idaho!

  16. Glen permalink
    June 11, 2017 7:45 AM

    I’ve always thought that Charlotte was pregnant. She looks it and she and her husband have a brief conversation about her smoking at the beginning. I also think if you have that in mind it makes Charlotte’s and Bob’s conversations about marriage more meaningful.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      June 12, 2017 3:47 PM

      Yes, I’ve thought that too. She certainly looked pregnant. I think if Scarlett Johansson were pregnant at age 19, we would have heard about it. I’m guessing Sofia Coppola chose Scarlett’s character to look like that. Strange the pregnancy was never talked about directly in the film though.

  17. Fernando permalink
    October 13, 2017 8:54 AM

    The main quality of the film is exactly its unpretensiousness. And the confort to see that everybody is kind os lost sometimes. I’m sure I would have a hard time to keep sanity if I lived jumping from city to city, from hotel to hotel.

    • Tom Meninga permalink*
      October 14, 2017 2:10 AM

      Yes, I agree! Very informal, lifelike.. people wandering through life, and having a hard time. Today I was thinking about whether or not I would really like to visit Japan. Earlier today, I imagined myself in Tokyo, standing at one of those huge crosswalks where hundreds of people cross each time the light changes. Would I really like the experience? I, being a tall, white, bald man, would appear shocking to the Japanese. Also, I speak only a few words of the language, and can read none of it. And then there’d be all the noise! Perhaps it is better to watch the movie?

      Yes, the movie does indeed convey a sense of being lost.

      I’m glad people still love this film. This is one of my posts, and the one for which I have received the most comments. Thanks for yours.

  18. Eduardo permalink
    January 7, 2018 6:03 AM

    “I’m guessing that, since you are reading a blog, you are probably a person of above average intelligence (my guess is that stupid people don’t read or write blogs)”

    What?… In all seriousness how does this have anything to do with the movie you are discussing?

    • Dan permalink
      January 7, 2018 10:05 AM

      This blog entry is 5 years old Eduardo. It is the one that gets the most response from Tom. I just wish he would do more then just reply to this. As for myself, I have spent the last 20 months learning Japanese studying an average of 2 hours a day. I just up and decided to reconnect with my Japanese past after watching so many movies, and playing so many Shogun like games all my life.

    • Tom Meninga permalink*
      January 12, 2018 1:30 PM

      I clicked “reply” on Eduardo’s question, but I guess this is going to be a reply to both of you? I don’t know. Anyway.. No, Eduardo, my comment which you quoted doesn’t really have a place in a movie review.

      It is my assumption that people who are not especially bright do not bother reading blogs, and are also not likely to be interested in independent films that take curiosity to find and patience to watch. That’s what I’m guessing I was thinking when I wrote the post.

      But again, no reason for me to point that out. However, I tend to leave my posts as written, unless I have gotten some factual information wrong. I don’t plan on editing this one, but maybe I should. The trouble is deciding when and what to change. I’m not interested in editing a post every time somebody doesn’t like something I’ve written. But maybe, in this case, editing out the unnecessary comment that you mentioned would be a good idea.

      Dan, what do you mean by “I just wish he would do more than just reply to this?” What more do you want me to do?

      This post gets the most response from me because it has been the one people have commented on the most. I respond to every genuine comment I get on every post, although I might occasionally take awhile to respond. By genuine, I mean “not spam.” I get a lot of spam. Sad that even blogs attract spammers. At least I’ve got a pretty good spam filter.

      I’m glad you are learning Japanese. This is likely to be a very rewarding experience for you. Do you plan on visiting Japan soon, or have you already been?

      I thought of studying Japanese – that was until I met an Aikido instructor, who explained to me how astonishingly complex and difficult the Japanese language is to learn how to write. Something like 10,000 characters he said folks need to learn to become literate. Yikes. Perhaps he was wrong, but he was a serious student of Japanese, also very serious about Aikido, and had been to Japan three times before I’d met him.

      After talking with the Aikido instructor, and also learning that the Japanese classes in town were not exactly affordable for me, I chose not to learn Japanese.

      Ok then, thanks for the comments, gentleman.

  19. mike permalink
    August 12, 2018 2:49 PM

    Hi ,
    I am mike, i really like your comments about that movie, its my favorite. i was living in Japan for almost 20 years and all what you see in the movie is real Tokyo. The relationship that builds up between Bob and Charlotte in this film is so deep and interresting ..i truly love it and i have seen this movie over, i guess, 20 times ..

    • Tom Meninga permalink*
      August 13, 2018 11:42 PM

      Wow! Glad the movie looks authentic. What were you doing in Japan for so many years? Are you Japanese? If not, did you live there for work?

      I know Mike is not a Japanese name, but some Japanese people like to have American nicknames. I met a Japanese student in college who told me to call him Tommy.

      Yes, the relationship of Bob and Charlotte is so unique for a movie. I’ve never seen anything like it.

      You’ve watched this film even more times than I have! I’ve probably seen it about ten times.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Do you like any of Wes Anderson’s films? They are quite different from “Lost In Translation,” except that Anderson’s films are also unusual comedy-dramas, and Bill Murray has been in all but one of them – in a lead role, a supporting role, a cameo, or a voice role – two of Wes Anderson’s films are animated. Anderson has made a total of 9 films.

      Anderson’s most recent movie is a film that shares some similarities with “Lost In Translation,” even though it is an animated film, called. “Isle of Dogs.”

      “Isle of Dogs” is a VERY strange movie. It is set in Japan, but is not animated in the usual Japanese anime style. Most of “Isle of Dogs” is in Japanese, and much of the Japanese is not translated.

      Also, both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson provide their voices for animated characters. However, the dog that has Scarlett’s voice does not talk with the dog that has Bill Murray’s voice. They have small animated roles in that film. It’s the only movie I know of besides “Lost In Translation” that they are both involved in. Odd that this one also is set in Japan, and has a lot of untranslated Japanese.

      If you would like to get started with Wes Anderson movies, I recommend “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.” (Neither of these are animated). Tenenbaums has some graphic images in it, and lots of profanity. “Rushmore” is just rated R for language and a closeup of a few pages from a Playboy magazine.

      Bill Murray is one of the stars of “Rushmore,” and has a small supporting role in “Tenenbaums.” Scarlett has not appeared in any of Anderson’s films, just had a small voice role. But Anderson loves to cast people who he has previously directed, so Scarlett might show up in another Wes Anderson film.. who knows.

  20. Dan permalink
    August 12, 2018 3:09 PM

    Glad this post is still getting response. I am about 26 months into Japanese Language study. It is something that perhaps I wanted to do all my life and waited till my middle aged years to start. Yes it is monstrously hard. Memorizing words is hard because as so many sound alike. As for the Kanji study. You only need to know about 2,000 for a high school literacy level. I am nearing 500. So many of them are very similiar and many many have the same readings. Anyways I still love it.

    The Japan portrayed in this movie seems to be an Older Japan. Nowdays unlike me most people interested in Japan are the Otaku culture young adults who like Manga and Anime.
    Unlike them, I first became interested in Japan after the book “Shogun” came out and was hugely popular. Especially in Hawaii where I was living at the time.

    Anyways my comment to Tom about doing something about your feelings from this movie. I mean go travel, get out of your comfort zone, get lost somewhere. Judging from some of your blogs I have read, you seem to stay completely within your shell. Why not travel to some far away land where you do not speak their language and feel what this movie is about. Living in Mexico and making pesos it is very difficult to afford travel, and yet I have been to Europe for one month long trips twice now. I wasn’t alone though. Perhaps if I was I could have felt more of the meaning of this movie but then I think I do anyways. When I lived in Hawaii as a younger man I was white and out of place amongst the Asians. Later in life I came to Mexico as a gringo and went through the entire process of adapting to a new language and new culture. Someday I will make it to Japan. I just want to have a very good understanding of the language before I go, and that is probably still another year away!

    • Tom Meninga permalink*
      August 14, 2018 12:40 AM

      I thought of learning Japanese, and learned a few phrases from an audio course. But I decided not to continue my studies. I talked with a middle-aged guy who was an Aikido instructor and student of Japanese. He told me about how crazily difficult the language is, especially the written form, and told me it usually takes Americans about 10 years of serious study to become both fluent and literate. After talking with him, I decided not to study Japanese.

      I am glad you are loving your language learning experience, even though the language is so difficult.

      You are studying so hard just so you can have a better visit to Japan? How long do you plan to be there? You are learning Japanese while living in Mexico? Are you learning online, or do you have a Japanese teacher there?

      Why are you living in Mexico?

      Interesting comment about the film depicting what you call an older Japan. So it’s mostly Otaku kids who are American tourists in Japan these days? I wonder what the Japanese think of these kids. Some of the kids probably know at least a little Japanese.

      I’ve read about the difference between “Otaku” (which can mean an obsessive enthusiast about anything) and a “weeaboo,” a non-Japanese word meaning a person who considers everything Japanese to be superior to anything that is not Japanese, is probably really into cosplay (dressing up as anime and manga characters), using broken Japanese when not in Japan or speaking with people who are fluent in the language, and obsessed with manga (Japanese comic books) and anime (Japanese animation).

      I wrote the above paragraph for any folks that come along and read these comments. This happens occasionally.

      I’m not a weeaboo, but I used to be somewhat of an otaku, I suppose. I watched a LOT of documentaries on Japan, watched some anime, some live action films, looked into studying the language, learned a few phrases from an audio course, and took Aikido for a very short time.

      But most people didn’t know I was that into Japanese culture and so forth. I wasn’t obvious about it.

      For people who want to know more about “otaku vs. weeabo,” here is more to read, from question and answer site.. I’ve written a ton of answers on that site, but did not write about the otaku/weeabo thing.

      This answer is from someone named Onaj Tamo.

      “Yes. As in how punkers and metalheads often like to also listen to both Punk rock and Heavy metal, but they are not the same.

      But avoid calling yourself either one of those in public too much. When talking to non-anime fans call yourself an anime fan and be subtle(you don’t have to hide, but be subtle).

      Basically Otaku in Japanes is an insulting term to call someone an ‘obsessive super nerd’. Not neccessarily of anime. There are even some Japanese Otaku who don’t care about anime. There are computer geek ‘otaku’. There are even military equipment ‘otaku’.

      Let me give you an example of why you should avoid calling yourself and ‘otaku’:
      I went to a beginner Japanese class back in college. Both of our teachers were born Japanese, and I imagine we students even befriended them. And then one day the teachers asked us why did we want to learn Japanese?

      At that time I was already aware of the social stigma on anime otaku, so I was eloquent, subtle but still truthful and my answer was:
      “Because I appreciate Japanese culture and works of multimedia.”
      My friend however was seemingly not aware of the social situation he was in, so he just blurted out:
      “Because I am an anime otaku.”

      What happened then was that first both my teachers bursted into laughing and then most of the rest of the class started laughing.

      Now about the term ‘weaboo’:
      The term itself first started as ‘wapanese'(Wannabe Japanese) in the western world. It is an insulting term used for ‘people that consider everything japanese and everything that comes from Japan superior to non-Japanese things in every possible way.'(Or at least for people that act like that.) It is OK to like Japan and anime, I like Japan and anime myself, but it is completely incorrect to consider any ‘culture’ to be superior than any other culture. Honestly people that act like the definition af weaboo’s are often very annoying and they are the reason why some people look weird at us ‘normal’ anime fans. You can recognise weaboos easily by their speech patterns, because they often try to mix Japanese into their English even when not talking about anime or anything Japan related. They can also be recognised by their ‘extreme’ behaviour.

      But when is it OK to follow your passion a little and ‘weeb out’ a little or call yourself an ‘otaku’?
      Only and only when you are among your other anime fan/ weaboo/ otaku friends. Basically, be aware of the social situation you are in.

      When you are not among them then basically like I have said at the beginning of this post, you don’t have to hide, but be subtle.

      There even is a term for this among us anime fans, we call being subtle as:
      “I am hiding my power level.”(obvious Dragon ball Z reference though)”

      Ok.. that was the quora answer.. back to my reply..

      Much time past, I lost interest in things Japanese, for the most part, and now, I am getting into Japanese things again, but not with as much intensity. I have found some anime I like (Miyazaki especially, but some other films and shows as well), and am thinking of taking a karate class. I’m more interested in Chinese martial arts.- more my style, I think, but there’s a basic community education karate class that I can afford, so I’ll likely take that one.

      Gosh I write long replies.. I”m not even done yet.

      I just looked up the novel “Shogun.” Published in 1975. I saw part of the TV miniseries when I was a kid, back in the ’80’s. I just looked up that too.. was released in 1980. I think it was in 1984 that I saw part of it.

      Hmm.. I wonder what life is like in Hawaii. I saw a film called “The Descendants.” It is about white folks living in Hawaii. I wonder how accurate it is.

      I’ve never really wanted to go to Hawaii.. but a Cameron Crowe film called “Aloha” (which was mostly good except for Emma Stone playing a character who was half-white, a quarter Chinese and a quarter native Hawaiian – and who had a Chinese surname.. seriously?? Other than that, a fun film). And yeah.. that movie made me kinda want to go to Hawaii.

      Ok.. now I’m going to address your more personal comment. According to you, from your reading of my posts (how many have you read? I’ve got several hundred of them) I seem to “live completely in my shell.”


      It is true that I’ve never visited any countries besides Canada and Mexico.

      This is because I cannot afford to visit any other countries. It’s not that I don’t want to travel, I just have never had the money. Don’t make the assumption that I live entirely inside my shell as you put it. I’d be spending lots of time in various parts of Asia, and be hanging out in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand if I could afford to do so. I’d also like to go down to Patagonia, and visit Iceland.. and many other countries as well. But I don’t have the money.

      I have seen a lot of America. Been to 19 states so far, and have lived in 4.

      My travel, most of the time though, is much closer to home. Sadly, it is not a form of travel most Americans even think about. They think about traveling overseas, but ignore the back roads and narrow highways outside their own cities.

      I am a traveler of the back roads. Some of the most famous Idaho destinations outside Boise I still have not been to, but I have seen parts of Idaho that only people living in these rural and high desert areas have seen. I like to wander. I did the same thing when I was living in Northern California.

      It kinda pisses me off when people tell me I should go out and travel. They assume that I’ve got the money to do so, but not the will. Quite the opposite, actually.

      I know that one does not need to be rich to travel. I have a cousin who makes a middle class income, and who has traveled to Australia, Iceland, and has wandered all over Southeast Asia. But she’s making more money than I do. To put it bluntly, I’m poor.

      Since I cannot afford to travel, I watch documentaries, listen to travel audiobooks, watch some foreign films, and spend time as a volunteer tutor of English. My students are mostly either Mexicans or refugees from various war zones in the Middle East. If I cannot afford to travel, I can at least spend time with international people, and help them, too.

      Damn, this is a long reply. I don’t mean to seem like a narcissist. I’m an obsessive writer. Once I get started.. I go for awhile. Which is why I don’t write as often anymore.

      I hope you get to Japan someday, and I’m glad you’ll be quite prepared when you do.

      Maybe some day I will make a better living, and be able to travel there too. If not, I will continue to enjoy books and films about Japan.

  21. Jason permalink
    September 29, 2018 8:36 PM

    Hi. Are you still monitoring comments here? Thanks.

    • Tom Meninga permalink*
      October 3, 2018 4:19 PM

      Yes. I still log into the the blog sometimes, but don’t post much these days.

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