Why I Love Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation is my favourite movie of all time. I adore Sofia Coppola and love every one of her films, but Lost in Translation is her best. It is a movie about love that is not defined by sex. I first saw the movie in 2004, when me, my brother and father went to see Brian Wilson perform SMiLE in Glasgow. I think it was in March. My brother Martin and friend Mel had told me that I would love it, and boy were they right. Bill Murray has never been better. His performance is extremely funny, very touching and all around on point. Scarlett Johansson is one of my very favourite actors, and she is so beautiful here, getting across the emotional isolation that has consumed her. This emotional isolation is shared by Murray's character Bob, who is in Tokyo for a profitable ad campaign for Santory whiskey.
Let's start with the music, from Girls by Death in Vegas to Sometimes by My Bloody Valentine to Just Like Honey by the Jesus and Mary Chain, everything adds to the otherworldly atmosphere. Anybody who has ever been immersed in another culture knows how simultaneously entrancing it can be, while also making you feel out of sorts and isolated. I would love to go to Tokyo, and I think I would love to live there for a time. Every time I watch Lost in Translation, I get a big smile on my face, and I go to a special dreamy place. My first girlfriend also loved the movie, and we would spend many hours watching it together, and later during intimate times listen to the soundtrack to transform our reality.
From the opening shot of Lost in Translation, which is both hilarious and undeniably arousing, Sofia Coppola keeps you off kilter and surprises you as much as she pleases. Lost in Translation is one of the most romantic movies in history, but not through traditional means. There is no sexual relationship between Bob and Charlotte. That is not what their love is about. It is about two people who are lost and who need each other to get their shit together. It is easily up there with Spike Jonze's Her - also starring Scarlett Johansson - and Martin Scorsese's Age of Innocence as a supreme example of romantic cinema. That they know that they will not see each other again makes the film's ending so moving. People would just misinterpret it and think that it was a tawdry affair between an older man and a young woman. That ending where Bob says something to Charlotte - which have unfortunately been discovered through audio software, and no I will not confirm what is said - is maybe my favourite ending to anything ever. So moving.
Sofia Coppola has recently come under fire for alleged whitewashing in her recent film The Beguiled. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I won't comment but I will say that it is over the top to suggest that this is a problem that has plagued all of her films or that because of one mistake she should be shunned by moviegoers. There is no harm in someone writing what they know, and Coppola knows what she knows very well. Anyone questioning her ability should watch Lost in Translation and see how incredibly talented she is in the world of films. Her touch is so light, her stories so subtle and full of wonder and beauty. Coppola won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation. Bill Murray should have won for Best Actor, which unfortunately and unjustly went to the incredibly overrated Sean Penn for the equally overrated kitchen sink child abuse story Mystic River. Murray and Johansson did however each win Best Actor in the Baftas. If you like Lost in Translation I highly recommend watching the thematic sequel Somewhere, which is nearly as gorgeous and follows up on Lost in Translation incredibly well.
Let's talk about some of my favourite scenes. I love the karaoke scene where Bob sings More Than This by Roxy Music and Charlotte sings Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders. The scene where Bob records the ad for Santory whiskey is hilarious and is the definition of the title of the film. The opening is drop dead gorgeous, and immerses the viewer in a strange and beautiful world. I also love the scene where Bob is in a strip club watching a woman dancing to Peaches Fuck The Pain Away. This was the one scene that I had to skip when I showed the film to my grandmother some years back.
Lost in Translation is my favourite movie because I feel it speaks for what is in my heart. When I saw it, I felt that I had to find a love in my life like the movie. This is what led me to tell the first woman I loved how I felt about her. That didn't go too well, but it was an important moment in my life which allowed for me to open up about my feelings in general and not bury them inside. Lost in Translation helped me to reconcile with my father, and to treat the people I love better. It is a magical movie, and something that will always mean a lot to me. Thanks Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson for giving us such a special thing.