This is the only film I truly love. It is the film that changed my life. So, it’s about time I finally reviewed it. Lost in Translation is an extremely profound, philosophical, cathartic experience disguised as a romantic comedy. It is a work of high art in every sense, a transcendental indie masterpiece. If you have ever been involved in a devastating breakup with someone you truly loved—or if you’ve been depressed to the point where you wanted to end your life—you will connect with this film. If you feel alone in any way, you will connect with it. It is transcendental.
In a stunning breakout performance, Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, a recent Yale grad who just got married—a decision she now highly regrets—and feels like life is falling apart. Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, an aging film star who’s going through a mid-life crisis, as well as his own marriage problems. Charlotte and Bob both end up on trips to Tokyo. What follows is a surreal connection between unlikely acquaintances. You can feel the romantic tension slowly build like electricity. And yet, their friendship is infinitely more than mere romance.
Both characters are emphatically lost in every sense of the word. And in a city that feels infinitely vast, mysterious, and foreign, they find order in the chaos through each other. Artistically, the cinematography is breathtaking. Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning script, meanwhile, is flawless. Thomas Mars’s soundtrack stars with well-curated indie tracks. The editing and mixing are flawless. And above all else, the acting is phenomenal. The two leads play their roles with a sense of authenticity to the point where you can feel their pain. I might add that this film, which some people consider a romantic comedy, is absolutely hilarious too.
Lost in Translation is one of the most influential and artistically dense films of the 2000s—and, whether you are just looking for a fun indie drama or a brilliant philosophical meditation, it can be whatever experience you want it to be. It is dynamic. And I couldn’t love this film more than I already do. I’ve seen it at least 30 times, I still see it several times per year, and it renews my love for life, my passion for art, and my belief in humanity and the world each time. Surely we all need some of that in 2020. Don’t miss out on this stunning magnum opus!
P.S. I don’t like the trailers for Lost in Translation, but this fan video for Phantogram’s wonderful song “Bill Murray” captures the film’s essence.