"I can't tell you how many people have told me that they just don't get Lost in Translation. They want to know what it's about. They complain 'nothing happens.' They've been trained by movies that tell them where to look and what to feel, in stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. Lost in Translation offers an experience in the exercise of empathy."
Lost In Translation (2003) is the second film directed by Sofia Coppola after The Virgin Suicides. It stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, with Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris in notable supporting roles.Bob Harris (Murray) is a Hollywood actor past his prime, who despite his fame and success feels existentially empty. He goes to Tokyo to play in a commercial for the Suntory whiskey brand. Plagued by insomnia, he meets Charlotte (Johansson), the young and bored wife of a fashion photographer (Ribisi). On the outskirts of the movie is Kelly (Faris), a movie star who is promoting her newest flick.With too much time on their hands and no idea what to do in Japan, Bob and Charlotte drift together and become emotionally close.
Bilingual Bonus: Amusing scenes in which Bob and Charlotte interact with the locals are even funnier if you understand Japanese.
Not to mention the direction given to Bob.
The Director:(in Japanese, to his interpreter) The translation is very important, okay? The translation.
Interpreter:(in Japanese) Yes, of course. I understand.
The Director:(In Japanese, to Bob) Mr. Bob. You are sitting quietly in your study. And then there is a bottle of Suntory whisky on top of the table. You understand, right? With wholehearted feeling, slowly, look at the camera, tenderly, and as if you are meeting old friends, say the words. As if you are Bogie in Casablanca, saying, "Here's looking at you, kid,"—Suntory time!
The Interpreter:(In English, to Bob) He wants you to turn, look into camera, okay?
The Cameo: Japanese late-night TV host Takashi Fujii, a.k.a. Matthew Minami, as himself.
Celebrity Paradox: Actually a weird subversion. While channel-surfing, Bob chances upon a Saturday Night Live re-run that features a younger Bill Murray, but it is implied that In-Universe it is a movie or TV show featuring Bob Harris, not Murray.
Comically Missing the Point: Charlotte and Bob's lunch at the shabu-shabu restaurant is fraught with tension, because Charlotte has just caught Bob sleeping with someone. Because of the Unresolved Sexual Tension between the two (even though they're both married), the lunch was very awkward. The next day, as they're saying goodbye in the hotel lobby, Charlotte's in a forgiving mood. "That lunch was awful," she says with a smile on her face. "Yeah. Who makes you cook your own food?" Bob replies.
Corpsing: In the waiting room scene, the ladies sitting behind Bob start giggling as the old man rambles to him and he tries to make sense of it. It wasn't scripted, apparently.
Pretty much any time Charlotte is alone in her room. The girl does not seem to like pants, and goes barefoot a lot.
Fish out of Water: Both Bob and Charlotte are completely unfamiliar with Japanese culture, and find life in Tokyo endlessly baffling.
Foreign Queasine: Bob and Charlotte go to a shabu-shabu restaurant. The menu has a bunch of identical pictures of meat. Bob points to one with disinterest and later complains about having to cook his own food.
Japanese Language: Plenty of it, obviously, none of it subtitled. Unless the audience understands Japanese, they are as clueless as the characters about what the locals try to tell them, which fits with both the title and the theme of the film.
Karaoke Box: Bob and Charlotte go to one with their Japanese friends after a party.
Life of the Party: Subverted. As Roger Ebert puts it in his review of the film: "Bob Harris, who could be funny, who could be the life of the party, who could do impressions in the karaoke bar and play games with the director of the TV commercial, but doesn't—because being funny is what he does for a living, and right now he is too tired and sad to do it for free."
Reality Has No Subtitles: As the title implies, the characters are alienated from their surroundings by not speaking the language or understanding the culture. This draws them to each other and causes them to do more self-examination than they otherwise would.