My Favorite Movies – Lost in Translation (2003)

7 Jun

By Tanner Smith

You ever have that experience where you get away from everything for a while, take a nice little fantasy journey, and then you come back to reality a little more enlightened? I love that experience. And this movie is like the cinematic version of that feeling.

The universal acclaim of Sofia Coppola’s sophomore feature “Lost in Translation” was INSANE–critics loved it, audiences loved it, I even think it would’ve won the Best Picture Oscar if “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” had come out the following year!! But that should say something–everyone got something from this film.

And this is the kind of personal-story film that works differently for people. Some will immediately identify with being isolated from your normal routines. Others will identify with the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. Others will feel the connection between two lost souls who find each other in a strange way. And so on.

Whatever the case, I think the reason the film is so beloved is because people have found many things to like about it.

This is one of Bill Murray’s best performances, right next to “Groundhog Day” and “St. Vincent.” Here, he plays more-or-less a version of himself that seeks something simpler for a little while. And he finds it in Scarlett Johansson, in what is probably her breakout role as a young woman who, like Murray, is an American tourist in Tokyo not knowing what to do or why she’s there. In each other, they find friendship and engage in conversation that strengthens their bond and distracts them from the moment they will inevitably separate and go back to their own regular lives.

Sounds a bit like “Before Sunrise,” doesn’t it?

The way they connect on a personal level is truly moving in a film that is both smart and perceptive. And every time I watch it, I feel like I’ve taken a nice trip–one I wouldn’t mind revisiting anytime.

My favorite scene: as much as I love the scenes between Murray and Johansson, my favorite scene is the filming of a commercial Murray is appearing in, which includes the crazy intensity of a director who only speaks Japanese (his translator isn’t very helpful to Murray). I’ve met some directors in my time who are as intense as this guy.

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