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Film review: Lost in Translation (2003)


If you’re looking for a place to get lost, try singing karaoke with a bunch of Japanese strangers inside a building that overlooks the city of Tokyo.

Or at least that’s what Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson did in Sofia Coppola’s independent production of Lost In Translation (2003). Perhaps not the most conventional duo, the pair portray the characters Charlotte and Bob who despite leading very different lifestyles, find common ground in their experience of isolation. Charlotte is a newlywed with not enough company and Bob is a famous actor with too much. However, their contrasting existences both produce the same feeling that many of us in our lives can suffer through – loneliness.

Upon meeting, Bob provides Charlotte the kind of support she needs and in return Charlotte can offer a friendship that’s genuine. Here their journey begins in the culturally exhilarating country of Japan where they embrace the chance to not only lose their problems but lose themselves. By being lost, the two companions are awarded a certain break from reality that allows them to take step outside and evaluate what it is that they want.

At just seventeen years old at the time, Johansson goes beyond her age as she plays a character that some of us may recognise: a bored, twenty-something-year-old unemployed post-grad that roams around echoing the question, “Now what?”  Fortunately for this character, her lack of experience and purpose in life is greeted by someone like Bob who has many years of living under his belt filled with memories, mistakes, choices and opportunities that he uses to guide her. The film brings in conversations that should not only be listened to by her, but by its audience:

“I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be."

“You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you."

A pretty good thought to keep in mind.

In his favour, the confused newlywed uses her youth to refresh and awaken Bob’s apathetic attitude towards life and reminds him of the normality he once had before his fame. An entirely platonic relationship emerges that shows how any two people are capable of finding a connection with each other.

Of all advice that’s given in this film, the most important piece to take in consideration is the idea of getting completely lost and to remember that loneliness is underrated. To be alone is not to be terrified or unhappy but instead a peaceful kind of existence that means having nothing distract you from figuring out who you are. It means being able to answer questions that only you have the answers to. To be lost means anything can happen. You can meet anyone, go anywhere and do anything because you are not just lost but you are free.

Maybe you are afraid of getting lost. But if you are not yet lost, then please go ahead and lose yourself. You’ll be surprised what you can discover.

So get lost, get lost in translation.

Written by Courtney Ann

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