Lost In Translation Reviews
Two Americans in a foreign country staying in a Western-themed hotel, it seems unsurprising Bob and Charlotte would be drawn to one another by a sense of familiarity, especially as English speakers. Bob is having personal family issues and some kind of mid-life crisis (esp. after pausing when Charlotte asks him if he's bought a Porsche. Did he and didn't admit it?). He's in Japan promoting whiskey, where it's difficult for him to communicate with the Japanese crew. He's especially distanced from his children, not only physically but emotionally, even forgetting his son's birthday, and later showing no sign that he's attempting to make up for it. His wife prompts their conversations. Instead of enjoying a conversation with his family, he appears as much an outsider to them as he does being a Westerner in Japan as they discuss house renovations. Having several days of down-time waiting for a TV appearance, and distanced from his family, he has days to ponder and find distractions, though he has no friends, acquaintances, or colleagues in Japan. Charlotte is a philosophy graduate who is stuck in liminal space, and made the mistake of not entering (though we don't know if she applied to) a Graduate program. She's briefly moved to Japan with her husband, a busy photographer, and she's unemployed and clearly bored out of her mind. Unemployment keeps her from the hectic call of preoccupation, and keeps her distant from her husband and his friends, including moments of social conversation where her husband's friends' topics are fast-changing and don't interest her. Her connection with her family is literally and emotionally distant as well. In her one family conversation, Charlotte weeps as she talks to her mother, who seems to ignore her small moment of doubt, though we are unsure of their past or present relationship.
While Bob and Charlotte are both in a liminal space and disconnected, they are operating at the same pace, the thing they have in common is a bout of insomnia probably due to inactivity, and seemingly having nothing in common with anyone else. As it turns out, Charlotte does know people in Japan, and contacts them (why she didn't beforehand, we don't know), inviting Bob along for the evening. Charlotte's friends are Japanese (how she knows them, we don't learn), and they visit local nightclubs. Bob and Charlotte develop a stronger relationship, and due to a minor altercation, one bar tender chases them off firing some kind of kids' gun at them (whatever that thing is), they are momentarily separated from the group until they get back together and meet up for karaoke, where they're better able to integrate into some part of the culture.
Their relationship progresses to the point where they are comfortable enough around each other to sit and drink sake until they can discuss their personal issues and finally sleep. While there are romantic undertones, their relationship is more platonic and familial. Charlotte develops a relationship with Bob like she's missing a parental or familiar figure, considering her mother is unable or unwilling to console her from a distance and her husband is busy. Bob, being dissociated from his children and wife, his wife being in control of the household decisions, relates to Charlotte as an amalgamation of his wife and kids. He has some attraction to Charlotte, but finds physical intimacy with the lounge singer instead, and Charlotte is not maintaining domesticity like his wife, but is a friend. Bob also is learning consolation and guidance using experienced insight, practicing a mentoring relationship with another person in a way he apparently does not or cannot with his own children. Their bond appears to be what both need in that moment.
LOST IN TRANSLATION plays like a literary vignette, where both characters wander off in the end with unresolved issues.
1-time movie for sure, but not a waste of time.