Finally watched the 2003 hit movie Lost in Translation with Bill Murray last weekend. I always get a kick out of watching movies set in locations I have been to, and I fondly remember Tokyo as this giant, crazy metropolis full of strange people. The Japanese, bless them, are probably one of the weirdest people I have gotten to know them. Which I do not say to insult them or anything – after all I like strangeness because I fit right in.
Lost in Translation takes us through a two week visit of Bob Harris (Bill Murray), an aging American movie star who is in Tokyo for an advertisement contract – and grows from feeling trapped in a culture he understands nothing about to enjoying the ride. There isn’t any real story as you would expect from a Hollywood movie. There’s a bit of a romance between Murray’s character and the female lead, Charlotte, charmingly played by Scarlett Johansen, but it never works out as both have previous commitments – she is freshly married, he has been so for 25 years and has several children. A romantic tragedy, maybe?
The true “star” of the movie, in my biased eyes, is Tokyo itself, a constant, crazy whirlpool of sounds and sights; you could take the movie and transport it anyplace else – there are enough “weird cultures” after all – but it wouldn’t work nearly as well without the Japanese and their capital city.
However, I must say that Lost in Translation does not deserve the hit status it enjoyed for some months. It’s a quiet and enjoyable movie, sure enough. But in a few short years, nobody will remember it. It’s no grand artistic achievement, it’s not a really memorable ride, it’s simply an enjoyable movie you watch when you are bored on a Saturday night.