R for nudity. The movie starts off with seeing a woman's butt through her underwear. There's also a pretty graphic scene where the protagonists visit a strip club. Most of the movie is actually pretty innocent, hitting a note here and there with language. But it somehow becomes seedier because of the attention to nudity. There's a lot of drinking going on throughout considering that the two often meet at the bar. R.
DIRECTOR: Sofia Coppola
I watched this wrong. I also watched I Heart Huckabees wrong, but I have no desire to go back and revisit that one. At the time, I had liked a handful of movies that I watched over and over again. I considered myself a film snob, but I suppose I would probably be defined closer to being a film hipster. Yeah, this seems minor. But I had a different mindset when I watched this movie the first time. I was in college. I saw it on the big screen. I really wanted another Wes Anderson type movie because I knew that I liked Wes Anderson. But I originally thought that all independent film was the same and, boy, I couldn't be more wrong. Imagine had I gone into this movie having seen The Virgin Suicides first and then got ready for Lost in Translation. Yeah, life would be very different. Okay, it wouldn't be that different, but my opinion on Lost in Translation would have been drastically different.
Originally, I hated this movie. You know how I get all moralistic in my insights? Yeah, imagine just having that without an appreciation for film as a whole. My morals in terms of what I have a problem with are exactly the same. I'm still in the camp of "An affair is an affair is an affair." I hope I get to talking about this later, but Sofia Coppola has created a very introspective film that I absolutely adore. Somehow, Lost in Translation acts as a cautionary tale for married couples. There are movies that treat significant others and spouses as obstacles for a grander love story. Watching Lost in Translation is ultimately a story about loneliness. Yeah, it's a romantic comedy / dramedy, but it can't really be coupled with other films in the same genres. Can I say right now that "Bob Harris" as a veiled cover for "Bill Murray" is odd. Bill to Bob isn't much of a jump. Both Murray and Harris are common first names. Bill Murray is often put upon as an actor. I think that Bill Murray must have been going through a depressed stage in his life when Lost in Translation came out. Again, I'm basing a lot of this on his casting choices. There seems to be an active effort to bury the old personality of Bill Murray with many of his roles. Mind you, if you were concerned about Bill Murray, I think he's doing fine. (Please be doing fine, Bill Murray. I've now put my reputation at stake.) The legend that would be Bill Murray kind of was born out of the ashes of his independent film movement. Coppola had to write this film around Murray. I'd like to think that she wrote it around Johansson, but I can't really gleam that from the film. But Bob Harris is about a person who is publicly loved, but doesn't have any of those feelings resonating with him. Harris is exhausted. Being married for a long time changes a person. Instead of being just about an affair, Coppola is comparing how marriage changes people over different periods of time. Harris is married for decades. Charlotte has been married for two. For Harris, the honeymoon period is a distant memory. But for Charlotte, she has a husband that she remembers being over the moon for and now he's changing. That's really interesting. I don't think that Lost in Translation can go as far as being a condemnation of marriage, but I do think it highlights the dangers that a marriage can fall into.
Their spouses aren't evil. But they definitely become the bad guys of the film. John is mentally unfaithful to Charlotte. I can't read if he knows this or not, but he would rather hang out with another woman than his wife. He is polite to her. But he is also extremely dismissive of her. It's a constant battle, the intentions of an action versus the consequences of that action. In John's mind, he sees himself as being heroic. He is often away filming these commercials, leaving his wife behind. As a point of consideration, he brings Charlotte along to Japan, by all rights a romantic location. But he wants his cake and he wants to eat it too. (Hey! Marie Antoinette for Sofia Coppola fans!) I suppose that we all act differently when we are just around our spouses and when we are at work. I went to confession last night and really read a pretty thorough examination of conscience. There's a lot in there for how we treat our spouses and the lines that people cross in the name of innocence. John really sees himself as innocent. I give Charlotte points for a lot of her behavior because she vocalizes her frustrations in a reasonable and responsible way. I know that she could go deeper, but she's also trying to be cool and not terrible. Like, she doesn't really get off the hook for everything, but I'm giving her points where points are due. But John can't reconcile that. It's like when we mix two groups of very different friends. I know that my wife hates when we invite a lot of people for parties because there's the need to entertain everyone when we just want to settle in one comfortable place. John makes the noble choice in inviting Charlotte to Japan, but fails to think what this means on the grand scheme of things. Harris might be the bad guy in the other scenario. Harris keeps putting his career in front of his family. His wife reads (literally: most of her character comes across through notes and faxes) as someone who is used to his distanced behavior. Harris has kind of let his love die and now sees it as a chore. It's with Charlotte, when he doesn't think about his responsibilities, that he comes alive. I think this is where I kind of draw the line. Harris is a good human being throughout the story. He also has the same issue as John. He has the right intentions. I don't get the vibe that he is trying to seduce Charlotte. I think that a lot of his feelings are probably unwanted. He wants the relationship to be platonic. But this also leads to some behavior that is completely self-indulgent. I know. I'm kind of going in a circle and I'm probably taking away something that I'm really not meant to, but the story is that cautionary tale I'm talking about. Both Charlotte and Bob cheat on their spouses. In the case of Bob, it is physical. He sleeps with someone he is not attracted to as a means of prevention for sleeping with Charlotte. Charlotte actually seems to take it personally, which adds a whole new element to the experience. SPOILER: The movie ends with them kissing, which is a validation that this was somehow infidelity. But even without the kiss, would it have been inappropriate? I think so. They used each other as their spouses.
But does that make them unsympathetic? I don't think so whatsoever. NOTE: There is a really fine line between sympathy and morally correct. I don't advocate that they are in the moral right at any point in this movie and I don't like when people cheat on their spouses, especially in the case of Bob. Bob has a wife who seems to be experiencing real burnout in the marriage because of his behavior. But it is also a story of people just trying to find comfort in each other. If we applied the rules of When Harry Met Sally to this movie, it kind of implies that men and women can't be friends. I think that Lost in Translation is a bit deeper than When Harry Met Sally. I like Charlotte and Bob. But it is also dangerous what they are doing. I suppose Lost in Translation kind of lives in a world where happiness is the ultimate goal. At one point, Bob calls his wife and then eventually hangs up, saying "That was a stupid idea" or something to the like. That's definitely something that is happening within the film. From Bob's perspective, open discussion of feelings would seem like a bad idea. Charlotte is aggressive at times with her frustrations, pushing John away. John isn't really trying to communicate. Bob is talking about superficial, mundane things. The use of carpet samples as the crux of a conversation is telling that the two haven't have anything of substance to actually discuss. There are no heroes in this narrative, but I can sympathize with these characters who seem to be drowning without knowledge of which way to go. They seem so alone. Charlotte has her motivational tapes and her philosophy degree, but they all seem utterly useless without real conversation. Bob offers her that. I really get the vibe that the two initially do not plan to get emotionally involved with one another and it just plays out that way. It's really a sad story, the more I think about it.
I love the title Lost in Translation. I don't know how I would feel about this movie from an Asian perspective. That is something that is almost in the title. The Japanese culture often comes across as comical, but that's because we have no idea what is going on. The title says that there is richness behind all of the things that the two American characters view as absurd. I have always wanted to go to Japan. Perhaps the movie rides the line of slightly offensive at times. It really plays up the "L" and "R" inversion that Japanese accents tend to lean into. I really don't want to make another connection to Wes Anderson, but I can see people who were upset at Isle of Dogs having the same concern with Lost in Translation. The title works really well. These times that we giggle at people, we have to realize that something is lost there. Similarly, Charlotte and Bob's relationship isn't quite the affair that a lot of people would categorize it. It is something both more and less than an affair. We can't understand it because we aren't in that relationship. Something has been lost in that translation of the film. Japan really works as the backdrop of the movie because it is absolutely gorgeous. It hits a lot of those Japanese markers, crossing the dynamic between the information saturated Tokyo and the spiritual background of daily Japanese society. Coppola makes pretty movies and Lost in Translation is no exception. Can I just gush about her combinations between visual and auditory experience? It might just be my aesthetic choices, but the movie is absolutely gorgeous. I adore Coppola's artistry and even a weaker story kind of gets points because she is so talented.
Yeah, I was wrong to pigeonhole this movie in college. It is a much heavier film than I initially gave it credit for. I honestly think that my interpretation is light years away from Coppola's, but that's also because I have a very different philosophy towards life. However, that doesn't slow me down from appreciating a complex film that still has beauty in it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.