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Lost in Translation

Synopsis 1

Bill Murray is an actor in Tokyo doing whiskey commercials. He has nothing to do and so befriends a 20something (Charlotte) Scarlett Johnson, who also has nothing to do (she's there with her photographer husband). They proceed to have a fun (non-romantic) week partying and clubbing in Tokyo before Murray has to go back home.

Synopsis 2

Bob (Murray) and Charlotte (former philosophy major) have both reached a deep state of ennui when they are taken out of their home culture and separately thrust into Tokyo. There, they experience extreme loneliness in a culture that they don't understand, and doesn't understand them (so their lives are lost in translation). They find each other as anchors to reality and are therefore able to bear the aloneness and unreality of Bob's last week there.

What I Thought

I put two synopses above because depending on your mood, you'll either find this movie dull and empty (much like the character's lives) or a deep commentary on culture differences.

I liked it (synopsis 2). My movie partners hated it (synopsis 1).

Bill Murray is excellent as a dramatic actor. He still brings some of his humor into play, but it's not in your face. The funniest scenes are when Bob has to push the whiskey on Tokyo TV, photo sessions, and commercials. His face is priceless! He reminds me of when Robin Williams does drama and still shows his humor. Very well done, and I would love to have him nominated for an Oscar for this role.

But in the end, most of this movie is Bob & Charlotte staring out of windows. There isn't much explicitly said (the complete dialog probably fit on 2 sheets of paper), and no action.

But for some reason I liked it. It's also interesting to see some of Tokyo's subcultures (like the hotels that offer rooms only for karaoke) and the very overwhelming "Times Square" area with all the billboards and advertisements on buildings.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.