Lost in Translation

Director: Sofia Coppola

Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, Akiko Takeshita, Yutaka Tadokoro, Mathew Minami, Catherine Lambert, Fumihiro Hayashi, Nao Asuka, Kazuyoshi Minaminagoe, Hiroko Kawasaki, Lisle Wilkerson, Daikon, Kazuko Shibata, Nancy Steiner, Take, Ryuichiro Baba, Akira Yamaguchi, Kei Takyo, Gregory Pekar, Richard Allen, Francois du Bois, Tim Leffman, Jun Maki, Tetsuro Naka, Kanako Nakazato, Asuka Shimuzu, Akira Motomura, Osamu Shigematu, Dietrich Bollmann, Georg Eschert, Mark Willms, Shigekazu Aida, Kazuo Yamada, Yasuhiko Hattori

A limousine takes Bob Harris (Murray), newly arrived in Tokyo, past the bright lights of street advertisements, the kanji characters incomprehensible to him. At the Park Hyatt Tokyo he is met by several members of his Japanese support crew. He’s handed a FAX from his wife, Lydia (Steiner), chiding him for forgetting his son’s birthday. Alone in his room, Bob finds it difficult to fall asleep. He goes to the hotel bar, where two strangers praise the action movies he used to star in. At the same hotel, Charlotte (Johansson) lies listless in her bed next to her husband, John (Ribisi). She cuddles up to him, but he remains asleep. Early in the morning John leaves for a photo assignment, hardly noticing her standing next to him in her panties. Bob and Charlotte ride in an elevator full of Japanese hotel guests. For a moment their glances meet and they exchange brief smiles. Bob’s Japanese support team takes him to a studio to shoot a commercial for Suntory whisky. He has few words, “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.” Miss Kawasaki (Takeshita) translates a lengthy instruction from the commercial director, “He want you to turn and look in camera. Okay?” Bob, unbelieving, says, “Is that all he said?” Charlotte rides a subway train to a Japanese shrine and watches silently as priests perform a ceremony. Back in her room she calls her mother. Charlotte senses there’s something wrong with her marriage. She seeks comfort and reassurance but her mother pays little attention. Bob is invited to make a guest appearance in a Japanese TV show. He does not want to do the show; he would have to extend his stay. In a rare occasion when Charlotte is together with John, they run into Kelly (Faris), an American actress in Tokyo to shoot an action movie. Kelly and John, acquaintances of long standing, lose each other in conversation, for a time forgetting Charlotte’s existence. In his hotel room, Bob watches unintelligible Japanese television, then drifts to the hotel bar. Charlotte has a similar experience in her own room. Bob is sipping a whisky when Charlotte enters the bar. She sits next to him. Bob declares that he’s being paid $2 million to endorse a whisky when he could be doing a play somewhere. Charlotte tells him that her husband is a photographer, in Tokyo for a shoot. She graduated last spring with a degree in Philosophy, has tried photography and writing. She was doing nothing special, so she joined her husband on this trip, but he’s off on assignments most of the time. Bob and Charlotte share the sparkle of possibilities that meeting someone new brings. They exchange witticisms during encounters on the hotel hallways, and their sympathy for each other grows. Charlotte feels abandoned in a strange land by her husband. Her tenuous friendship with Bob begins to provide someone to share her feelings with. Bob changes his mind and agrees to stay in Tokyo extra days to appear in the TV show. Charlotte invites Bob to join her at a party given by a Japanese acquaintance. It’s a lively and enjoyable gathering with many zany young people. At a karaoke bar as Charlotte sings ”I’m special, so special. I got to have some of your attention,” she looks directly at Bob. At that moment they become more than just friends. In the midst of jesting, music and laughter, their relationship becomes romantic. When Bob sings “More than this, there is nothing,” he turns to face Charlotte and she realizes that his words are for her. Their intense mutual attraction is unmistakable. On a phone call with his wife, Bob tries to share his feelings, but she only talks about her day. Charlotte goes on a day trip to Kyoto and Bob appears on the TV show as a guest of a wacky host (Minami). With their time together running out, Bob tells Charlotte he wishes to stay in Tokyo with her. They must decide if what they share is a fleeting romantic fantasy or the start of something permanent and good. Screenplay by Sofia Coppola.

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