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Movie Review

Lost in Translation also known as “Perdidos en Tokio,” “Lost in Translation - L'amore tradotto,” “Lost in Translation - Zwischen den Welten,” “O Amor É um Lugar Estranho,” “Avoodim B'Tokyo,” “Bir konusabilse…,” “Elveszett jelentés,” “Encontros e Desencontros,” “Izgubljeni u prevodu,” “Izgubljeni u prijevodu,” “Miedzy slowami,” “Stratené v preklade,” “Targmanshi dakargulni,” “Traduction infidèle,” “Ztraceno v prekladu,” “Трудности перевода”

MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content.
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2003
USA Release:
August 29, 2003 (festival)
October 3, 2003 (wide)
Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Focus Features

midlife crisis

loneliness

isolation / feeling sad, lost and alone—even in the midst of luxury

insomnia

world weariness / boredom

marriage in the Bible

Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
Some people are convinced that traditional marriages don’t work and that this practice should be abandoned. What does the Bible say about marriage?

husband wife relationships

cold spouse / alienation

May December romance

adultery and fornication in the Bible

culture clash / Japanese culture vs. American

language barriers

fantasy romance vs. reality

prostitution

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.
Featuring: Scarlett JohanssonCharlotte
Bill MurrayBob Harris
Anna FarisKelly
Giovanni RibisiJohn
more »
Director: Sofia Coppola
Producer: Focus Features
Tohokashinsha Film Company Ltd.
American Zoetrope
more »
Distributor: Focus Features

“Everyone wants to be found.”

Copyrighted, Focus Features

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are two Americans in Tokyo. Bob is a movie star in town to shoot a whiskey commercial, while Charlotte is a young woman tagging along with her workaholic photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi). Unable to sleep, Bob and Charlotte cross paths one night in the luxury hotel bar. This chance meeting soon becomes a surprising friendship. Charlotte and Bob venture through Tokyo, having often hilarious encounters with its citizens, and ultimately discover a new belief in life’s possibilities.

Shot entirely on location in Japan, director Sofia Coppola describes “Lost in Translation” as a valentine to the nature of close friendships and to the city of Tokyo. Ms. Coppola’s film, from her original screenplay, contemplates the unexpected connections we make that might not last—yet stay with us forever.

Ms. Coppola studied Fine Art at California Institute of the Arts. She then wrote and directed the short film “Lick the Star” (which world-premiered at the Venice International Film Festival), followed by the feature “The Virgin Suicides” (which she adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel, and which world-premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival).”


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—OK, let’s get the muck out of the way. Yes, there’s an implied sexual encounter, and yes there is a strip club scene. So no, this isn’t one for the kiddies, but you should already know that from the censorship rating. The main characters, Bob and Charlotte are both fish-out-of-water in Tokyo. Through their situation they find friendship and companionship. There is no infidelity between the two main characters, in fact through their friendship with each other they come to realise just how much they love and value their spouses and families.

Regarding the strip club, there is no full-frontal nudity (hence why it’s rated PG here in Australia), but it is pretty in-your-face. I think this is meant to make the audience feel uncomfortable, as it does with the two leads, who go there to meet some other friends, but bolt as soon as they find each other. On the whole I found the movie to be positive, uplifting and life-affirming. It’s about our connections, the friendships we have, and the moments in life where it feels good to be alive ’cause we just made someone smile. There is humour (both subtle and slapstick), there is fun, and there are tender bitter-sweet moments. Not your standard Hollywood movie.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Neil, age 35
Positive—Great film. Of course the two main characters are married in this film, but the relationships that they have with their husbands and wives are not that grand and loving. Not that it is okay for them to flirt around with one another, but while watching this film, try to see where they are coming from instead of condemning them for trying to find happiness through each other. They didn’t sleep together. That should be enough to make all of us happy. Go see the film, and enjoy it.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Steven, age 21
Positive—This is a very sophisticated, unusual and subtle movie about two people stuck in Japan. Their relationship is platonic. …I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, and found the Japanese location fascinating. The movie is droll, yes, in a dry and wry way. This is the first and only time I’ve ever really like Bill Murray. I recommend it to someone who doesn’t want the usual slick Hollywood fare. The screenwriter/director (Sofia Coppola) just got an Oscar for this original screenplay.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
Halyna Barannik, age 58
Positive—This is the best film of the year, hands down. I loved it. The only scene that I found objectionable was the scene in the strip club that was rather pointless, and didn’t do anything to advance the plot in any way. It was just there. There was no cussing whatsoever in this film, and then they threw that in. Other than that, I loved this film, and have already seen it four times in the theatre. I will be buying the DVD as well. Great story about friendship!
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Adam, age 21
Positive—I really liked this film because it showed a side to human reaction to our problems that the film industry does not often show. It showed discontentment bordering on perhaps a dull ache in a middle-aged marriage. It showed a more acute stage of disappointment in a very new marriage. It showed the shallowness and vanity of “worldly” values as highlighted in an ultra-modern city/ad industry and the hero/protagonist develop that theme by the discontentment of their lives.

This movie is a bit subtle. So if you’re looking for car chases and murder-mystery—well not in this one. The seamy scene in a night-club would be too much for teens, however for a mature audience, because it is not glorified but in context, it loses its seductive power, I think it is well placed and helps tell the story.

All in all this flick had a strong redemptive theme showing people making tough but right choices.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Anne, age 49
Positive—“Lost In Translation” has to be my favorite movie of all time. The story is beautiful, as well as the script, acting, cinematography, and shooting locations. But, the cinematography made me fall in love with this film. There are so many beautiful scenes. Namely, the opening, where Bill Murray is in a taxi, and you are shown the neon signs of Tokyo, with beautiful ambient music in the background.

Another part that makes this movie great, is the script. The way Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson interact makes you smile all the way through the film. They discuss the hardships of life, marriage, and they have beautiful conversations with each other.

One of the lines that makes me smile is “Let’s never come here again, because it would never be as much fun.”

But what about the movie’s morals? Early in the film, we see Scarlett Johansson go to a Buddhist temple. She is there to find herself… however, she calls her friend and tells her she didn’t feel anything. Isn’t this true? There is nothing to be found in false religion, like Buddhism. It’s only in Christ that we find life and salvation (1 John 5:12).

Another part is when Bill Murray goes to the strip club. There is nudity, but it is not glorified, and we can see Bill Murray isn’t lusting over the woman. The two main characters are only there to meet each other. And you can see, that when they are both there, they are extremely uncomfortable. As soon as Scarlett Johansson asks Bill Murray if he wants to leave, he jumps at it and says yes. You can see Bill didn’t know it was a strip club.

Now to the main question. Their relationship. To many, it looks like they are having an affair. And while it seems that way, at first, I don’t think it is. I feel it’s a very strong friendship. Why? They are both in failing/loveless marriages. Bill’s marriage is old, and Scarlett’s is new. They are both in Tokyo to find themselves and feel alienated and lonely in a city of 13,000,000. When they find each other, they find happiness through each other. Their relationship is purely and strictly platonic. They don’t sleep with each other. They just have fun around Tokyo, with each other.

Bill leaves because he knows he can never truly be with Charlotte without breaking his marriage up. “Lost In Translation” is a story form about them forming a friendship and helping each other in a place where no one understands them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Scott, age 21 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I was a little surprised to see the strip club scene, but the movie certainly didn’t make it an appealing place to spend an evening. Also, I don’t recall any foul language (The same was true of Sofia Coppola’s 2000 film, “The Virgin Suicides.”) Now, I liked the movie, but I also have problems with it, story-wise. I found the movie to be a little too lacking, in terms of the relationship between the two characters. They’re conversations are the best parts of the movie to be sure, but I got the feeling that Coppola didn’t quite know where she wanted to take the characters.

They meander through too much of the film. I wanted to hear them talk and connect like they did in their first scene together. There is a misnomer that subtlety is the best, most wonderful thing a film can have. That is not true. This movie is too subtle, to the point of being unfocused. Many of the scenes seemed to be just getting going when they end. Especially the scene when they are lying on the bed. Coppola seemed too scared of doing too much that she did too little. And yes, it does take a fine balancing act to make a great movie. That’s why I do not think “Lost in Translation” is a great movie.

The performances are great, for the given screenplay. Bill murray is wonderful, especially in the scene where he is shooting a commercial. Other parts of the movie just go on and on, like the karaoke scene. 30 seconds would have been enough. We got almost five minutes. We needed more of the two of them, talking. Just let them talk for ten minutes. They’re interesting characters! I see a lot of movies. The best of 2003 include “Whale Rider,” “Shattered Glass,” and “In America.” I am not new to independent films. I hate to say it, but “Lost In Translation” is not one of the year’s best films. It is a good film that is held back because of indecision in the writing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Jason Eaken, age 20
Negative
Negative—I was itching to see a foreign movie with a friend, but the only one in the area was this one. I rarely see R films and decided the best way to make lemon juice from this lemon was to let others in on it from a Christian perspective. Again, what you’d expect from Hollywood, implications that it’s OK to flirt with the opposite sex while married as long as you are sincere and make the other person happy. Both the main characters are married in the film. Throw in female nudity in unsavory locations, presumably topless bars and that’s about it. To top it off, Bill Murray is less inspiring than usual. I found him much better in other films like “Groundhog Day” or “Caddy Shack.” I believe I’m in the minority on that opinion, though, many seem to have loved the film and his performance.

The main point of the film is that 2 foreigners who normally would have nothing in common meet and due to their unfulfilled respective experiences in Tokyo, end up partying together on several occasions. This is reminiscent of the films of John Houston like “Heaven Knows Mr. Allison” where a US Marine and a nun are surreptiously thrown together in unusual circumstances. The movie deftly explores and captivates in that exploration. Mr. Huston succeeded superbly where Sofia Coppola fails in her attempt here. If you’ve lived in Japan you might find something in the film to relate to but the underlying messages delivered as outlined above didn’t seem worth it to me.

This is not a film to take children to and thankfully there were none at the showing I went to. The lack of morals in this film reminded me of another movie I reviewed some time ago, “You Can Count on Me.” I think I’ll go see Seabiscuit to decompress.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Bob MacLean, age 54
Negative—Although Bill Murray had some moments, overall this movie bored me. A man in a midlife crisis and a young woman trying to find herself… so what? I don’t understand all the Oscar buzz nor why so many find this movie interesting. For those who said this “isn’t your typical Hollywood movie”:
1. Obligatory nudity. 2. Obligatory affair (one night stand).
3. Obligatory mostly negative view of marriage.
IMHO, this is a vastly overrated movie. Perhaps I’m not sophisticated enough to “get it” but give me Return of the King, Seabiscuit or Master and Commander any day. “Lost in Translation” does not belong in that group this year, or any year for that matter.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Michael G., age 46
Negative—I was expecting a movie more in line with Bill Murray. His humor may be liked or disliked but he is typically entertaining. This movie is not entertaining, funny or worth watching. The movie is the world’s view of how we are aimlessly wondering around this Earth doing things as they are presented. This is far from what the bible teaches. After watching this movie, my summary is that they had Bill Murray and a few more no name actors and extra film and threw this movie together quickly. It is slow and not worth watching. Pass on this and watch something with more substance and entertainment value.
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Scott Statson, age 36
Negative—I wanted to like this movie so badly. This was one of the worst movies I have EVER seen. With Bill Murray in the lead role, my wife and I had high hopes. It’s a thoroughly boring movies about two tragic people spending a tragically boring week in Tokyo. They find each other and spend time together. That’s the movie in its entirety. I’m so upset, I want my money back. We almost got up and left twice during the movie—we were just bored to tears. We kept telling each other, “It’s got to get better soon. This thing’s up for Academy Awards!” EXTREMELY disappointing!
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Berford, age 52
Negative—Having traveled two consecutive summers to Japan, I took a slight interest in this movie, as did my girlfriend of three years who happens to be an MK born and raised there. So, while the scenes shot in Tokyo offered us some “natsukashii”, or nostalgic moments, reminiscing in the places we’ve visited together was not enough to warrant the lack of a substantive story line. The morals of the movie definitely left us with a bad taste as we lamented the world’s casually careless opinion concerning the sanctity of marriage.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Aaron, age 20
Negative—I found this movie to be a disappointing way to spend my evening. It proved to be virtually a tranquilizer dart, and my friends and I sat through its entirety waiting for something to happen, but alas, nothing did. I would advise anyone to spend the evening playing a board game instead of watching this film.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Nathan, age 18
Negative—As a non-Christian, I regularly read this web site, trying to understand how Christians reconcile the complexities of human emotion with their dogma. With this in mind, while I understand how devout Christians would be impatient with the difficulties the characters in this film have with their marriages and the friendship that results, I would hope that they would find compassion with the knawing loneliness felt by the characters. The film, I believe, is an excellent representation of two basically good people trying to make their way while wrestling with fidelity to the people they love (even those their spouses don’t love them back). Bill Murray’s affair is troubling (secularists don’t like infidelity either) but Ms. Johanson’s characters strength is inspiring.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Jamie (non-Christian), age 44
Negative—This film is not really a comedy and it is certainly not entertaining or uplifting. It is a slow, “artsy” drama about two married people, disillusioned with life and frustrated with their unhealthy marriages, who meet in Tokyo, dance on the edge of having an affair for a week, and then part ways. Bill Murray plays a celebrity having a mid-life crisis. Scarlett Johansson plays a young girl, just out of college, who jumped into marriage without really knowing her husband. Some content is very offensive.

There is a strip bar scene with frontal nudity and possibly other sexual content (I skipped it.) The film makes us guess whether or not the couple actually had a sexual encounter, but regardless the relationship portrayed is one inappropriate given their marital status. The film ends with the two characters finding that there is “more to life,” but not from a Christian perspective.

The only redeeming quality of this film is a raw expose of the frenetic, post-modern, spiritually-depraved techno-culture that is modern urban Japan. While it doesn’t make me want to visit as a tourist, it highlights an important mission-field.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
—Chris
Negative—I love Bill Murray and was very disappointed that he (and every other aspect of this movie) put me to sleep. It’s a great movie to rent / watch if you need help falling asleep? Oscar? ARgh! Why?
My Ratings: [Average]
—Rick, age 33
Comments from young people
Positive—“Lost in Translation” is a film lovers dream… I can see why the media has given it nothing but four star reviews, when the regular film watcher gives it an “ok” rating, saying there is no point to the movie. In modern cinema, there is no rising action or character development. It is just jump to the car chase or sex scene. This whole movie builds up to the last five minutes in my opinion. The point of the movie is probably there is no point, that’s why we, the audience, are also “Lost in Translation.” Morally, it has some secular flaws. But I think it is very human.

Bob looks disappointed in himself for having a one night stand, as Charlotte is angry at him as well. The nude bar makes our two heroes very uncomfortable, for they were somewhat tricked into going to the place that they did not know it housed, so they leave when they find each other, for it seems the only reason they stayed was to wait for the other. If you can tolerate two hours of somewhat “soul searching,” I suggest this movie. This movie also made me extremely grateful for the peace I have found in Jesus Christ, which I was wishing for our two heroes as well.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Gar Davis, age 16
Positive—On the morality side of things, I think this movie did a lot better than the majority of films out there at the moment. Yes, the topless bar did stand out as a major down point, but the characters implied that they disapproved of going to such a place as a night out. Bob’s one night stand was put out there as a mistake, and no objectionable content was viewed relating to that. As a movie, I thought it was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s not for everyone, I’ve come across many people who disliked it due to the lack of “action” and agreeably, there isn’t much of an exciting plot. The movie centres on the relationship between two people.

There are many moments when nothing is said, feelings are communicated simply through silence. It’s an “arty” movie and while not for everyone, and definitely not for kids (not just because of the nudity; they would just be bored), Sofia Copolla has managed to capture the emotions of two people stuck in ruts and looking for friendship and a way out, and she portrays this in such a way that makes for an amazing film and a very enjoyable two hours.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Rachel, age 16
Movie Critics
…It’s not a love story, or, at any rate, the sort we expect from movies. It’s something deeper and simpler…
—Ty Burr, Boston Globe
…I loved this movie…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…Profanity: Moderate | Alcohol/Drugs: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Extreme | Violence: Minor…
—ScreenIt!
…a few obscenities, some profanity, frontal nudity and an implied sexual encounter…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Women dance topless and with tiny thongs (we see bare breasts and bare buttocks)…
—Kids-in-mind
…A poised, intelligent film that nicely balances laughs with a poignancy rarely seen in American movies… Funny [and] bittersweet… [It] contains priceless slapstick from Bill Murray…[A] most original comedy…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
…film as a whole appears to have been slapped together… Part of the problem, too, is how underwritten the part is. …not enough else going on in this film to merit its 109-minute running time
—Andrea Chase, Killer Movie Reviews
…Remarkably sophisticated, honest, consistently hilarious and very real. Bill Murray is a wonder…
—John Anderson, Newsday
…a movie worth watching…
—Mike Clark, USA Today