Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson with direction by Sofia Coppola, this film is set in the fast-paced, technological, and modern world of Tokyo, Japan. That is where Bob and Charlotte find themselves and they both are lost, simply going through the motions of life. He is a middle-aged, former movie star filming a whiskey commercial. She is a newly-married wife of a fashion photographer. Despite their age differences, they find out that they have a lot in common. Over the week they spend time together in Tokyo and become friends. When the time comes for Bob to leave neither one wants their time to end. They say goodbye but do not forget each other. This film was enjoyable because it portrayed two people who could be good friends without getting romantically attached, at least in the conventional sense.
I must say that this type of friendship intrigues me. It is understandable that if you go to a foreign country alone it would be nice to have someone you could at least converse with, without any barrier getting in the way. It might be at Narita airport for a moment, at a Hotel, or walking the streets of Shinjuku. It would act as a comfort in a world like Tokyo that is so fast paced and high stress. These unusual circumstances could throw together two very different people, with little in common except the language they speak. That is something that does not happen every day.
Needless to say, after gaining the opportunity to visit Tokyo two years in a row it has given me some new insight. I can now wholly empathize with Bob and Charlotte because although I knew a few people, Tokyo is such a highly populated, fast-paced world that seems so easy to get lost and overwhelmed in. There is so much to see, so many lights, so many hurrying folks, so many subway lines, so many surgical masks, so much etiquette, and so much technology. True, some of my ancestors were Japanese but the language still baffles me, making it very easy to get “Lost in Translation.” Being in Tokyo it also helped me realize that it is not only tourists who get lost. It has been over 10 years since this film came out and a lot can happen in that time like more Starbucks and McDonalds on every corner.
Despite the westernization and technological advancement, Tokyo also has a time-worn aspect, and its people are often worn as well. They might not be lost because of a literal language barrier. However, they, like Bob and Charlotte, are often lost because they have difficulty getting close to their peers. Often they, like the two protagonists, seem to be searching for someone to talk to, but in their case manners keep others at arm’s length. Coppola’s film gained an even more personal note now that I have walked in these places and interacted with or at least walked alongside the Japanese people. They like anyone else can be “Lost in Translation,” it just might be a different type of “language” than what we struggle with. They too are humans who have their share of struggles, worries, joys, hopes, and dreams. Hopefully, this type of understanding will help us transcend any barriers so we no longer find ourselves “Lost in Translation.”