Lost in Translation
There's nothing quite like watching two affluent people lament their mutual affluence together.
Bob Harris (Billy Murray) is in Tokyo getting paid two million dollars to hawk a brand of whiskey. He's a movie star well past his prime (his best movies were in the '70s we learn). While wallowing in self-pity, he meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), another such wallower. She's in Tokyo with her photographer husband, John (Giovanni Ribisi), when she's overcome by an identity crisis.
Who is Charlotte? What has she done with her life? Do we care? She begins asking these questions while tossing her dirty undies all over the furniture in her $300/night hotel room, begging us, the audience, to please care about the internal machinations of the poor little rich girl. You know, I'd have cared a hell of a lot more if she were staying in some rat-infested flophouse. Jesus, get some psychotherapy like everyone else, bitch.
Director Sofia Coppola wants us to join her in this lament for the rich for, as we discover, the rich are just like us. They hurt, too! They have problems, too. So why couldn't this film be about regular folks having an identity crisis in Japan? Or how about actual Japanese people having a Japanese identity crisis in Japan? I'll tell you why. Because then there'd be no humorous exchanges between Bob and the incomprehensible Japanese (subtitles are lacking so that we can dismiss the Japanese as slap-happy morons). Bob ridicules the Japanese. We laugh. All is well.
Bob and Charlotte form a friendship. They are misunderstood and ignored by their spouses and the Japanese and are perfect fodder for the proverbial May-December romance. There's nothing quite like watching two affluent people lament their mutual affluence together. It doesn't appear anything is stopping them from moving on, only their collective inertia, which is so strong it was a miracle the Earth didn't just stop rotating during the film.
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