What to Watch: Lost in Translation

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/lostintranslation

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/lostintranslation

Tyler Lopez

Sleep. Most of us get some, while others do not. I am one of those who do not get sleep, and it wears on life pretty heavily. For those who can relate, you know the struggles all too well. Tossing and turning, staring at the clock, staring at the ceiling and the anger over the sleep you are losing each second you lie in bed wide awake.

Now, imagine losing sleep in a place that is over 6,000 miles away from home. Imagine wandering the packed streets of the biggest city on earth. Imagine being bombarded by a foreign language. Imagine being lost in translation in Japan.

For Bob Harris (Bill Murray), an old actor, and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a freshly graduated and newlywed woman, this is their reality, and alone, they face loneliness and disillusionment, but together, they find fun and eventually, love.

To preface, this film is beautiful. While many Hollywood flicks blow millions on a gorgeous backdrop of breathtaking jungles, deserts and mountains, “Lost in Translation” spent next to nothing on the wonderful urban landscape of Tokyo.

Shot entirely on location, the cinematography is far more stupefyingly amazing that of an immaculately created CGI backdrop of any Hollywood blockbuster.

In a 2003 interview, following the film’s release, Lance Acord, the film’s director of photography, admitted to filming illegally in Tokyo. Places such as temples, restaurants and subways required permits, permits of which the crew did not have.

To avoid being caught, the crew was relatively small, utilizing small cameras and avoiding police. Thankfully for us, they were never caught and the film was released.

The film opens as Bob’s limo is traversing the crazy busy streets of Tokyo in the late hours of the day. He soon arrives at his hotel room and is met by an entourage of greeters. It is apparent Bob is annoyed and wants sleep.

Much to his dismay, Bob is unable to sleep. He is subjected to staring at the ceiling and the clock and tossing and turning. So instead of lying in bed, Bob heads to the bar.  

There he knocks back a few whiskey sours and “talks” with two young “fans”. Before long, Bob gets out of the conversation.

He quickly notices a young woman who notices him as well. This is the first time Charlotte and Bob see each other.

Charlotte is a young, freshly graduated and newlywed woman. She too struggles while sleeping. Instead of rest she stares out across the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo while her husband, John, (Giovanni Ribisi) sleeps soundly.

Sick of doing nothing, Charlotte heads down to the bar to avoid the toils and troubles of sleep loss. It isn’t anything glamorous at first, but Bob and Charlotte see each other for the first time.

Other than the spectacularly realistic acting, both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson have incredible chemistry in the film.

All the while, the film genuinely feels as if you are watching someone else’s life up close and from afar. The amount of emotion the two display is something foreign to most romance films.

Murray, having established himself as a funny man with his stint on “Saturday Night Live” and dozens of comedy classics, takes a step out of his average roll and throws all of his talent and skills into such a perfect role.

Having starred in a few drama films beforehand, none come close to his role in “Lost in Translation”. Only one role comes close to this, and that is of his acting in “Groundhog Day”, which, in respect, is a dramedy (drama-comedy). That aside, “Groundhog Day” is also an excellent film.

At this point, Scarlett Johansson had not been in anything career-defining. She was young and mostly a child actress, but that did not stop her from being engaging and heartfelt in “Lost in Translation”.

The character of Charlotte is perfect for Johansson; young, wide-eyed and eager. Of herself and Murray’s acting, hers outshines his by a hair.

Together they supply viewers with an engagingly real and raw duo. This, other than the dozens of aesthetic touches, is by far the prominent feature this amazing film has to offer in its nearly two hour runtime.

All in all, “Lost in Translation” is a beyond amazing film. The raw emotion, beautiful metropolis and fantastic chemistry between actors crafts a film that transcends the realm of cinematography and is more akin to that of art.

To put it in lamons, the film is good. Go watch and fall in love with this masterpiece.