Adventures in Netflix! Episode 23: Lost in Translation

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Welcome once again to Adventures in Netflix! Today I’ll be reviewing the 2003 movie Lost in Translation.

Lost in Translation is one of those movies that dosn’t really fit into any particular genre. It doesn’t care whether it’s a dramady or a romance or a slice of life: it’s too busy being itself to have time for all that.

The movie tells the story of two wayward Americans adrift in Tokyo–Bob Harris (Bill Murray), an aging movie star with a penchant for melancholy, and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a young woman struggling to find herself and adjust to married life–who meet and form a deep, immediate bond.

“I feel like I made a wrong turn somewhere…”

Lost in Translation is a movie that takes its time, giving its characters a chance to develop slowly as we watch them wander through their lives. There are numerous scenes of both Murray and Johansson just being: sitting at a bar, on the bed, in a bath, giving us a beautifully understated glimpse into the loneliness that consumes them.

Thinking up a witty caption is difficult when the characters look so gloomy all the time.

The setting–Tokyo city–is depicted with so much personality and culture that it becomes almost a character itself, a metaphor for the characters’ situation, its strangeness and unfamiliarity a reflection for the lostness they feel in their own lives. This strangeness manifests itself in a number of bizarre, random, and often very funny occurrences and situations. These non sequiturs are left largely unexplained or contextualized, and do a great job of making Tokyo feel like an alien culture, leaving the viewer just as lost and bemused as the characters themselves.

There’s a certain charming innocence about Murray and Johansson’s relationship, a sense of genuine friendship and chemistry that goes beyond the simple infatuation found in most stories of the sort. It’s clear the two have strong feelings for each other: there’s a deep longing betrayed in the way the characters look at each other, not necessarily for something physical, but for the companionship they offer each other, the comfort of spending time with someone else who truly understands them.

When you get right down to it, Lost in Translation is simply a wonderful movie. There is a captivating sense of realness to everything, a heartfelt honesty that makes it easy to lose yourself in this wonderfully crafted film.

~NekoShogun

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