SOFIA COPPOLA’S ‘LOST IN TRANSLATION’: On lasting moments and the human experience

Lost in Translation could be used as the definition of melancholy and longing. It leaves behind a tingling and warm feeling for days after you had the joy of experiencing it. I found myself connecting with this film on a deep level.
The picture is about a twenty-something girl named Charlotte, who just graduated from college, and a middle aged, semi depressed actor, Bob Harris. They cross paths in Tokyo, both coming to terms with their own existential crisis’ while forming a bond.
Charlotte feels like a fish out of water. She comes to Tokyo because her husband of two years, John, has a job there, and she tags along. She spends her days wandering around the city or the hotel, not interacting with anyone. She feels distant from John, she’s starting to doubt why she married him in the first place. When reaching out, she struggles to express her feelings, and no one actually pays attention to her. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, she doesn’t have a purpose.
Bob arrives to the city to shoot a commercial for the Santori drink. When he gets to the hotel, he’s welcomed with a message from his wife, saying that he forgot their child’s birthday. He feels lost and stuck, unhappy. He thinks what he’s doing is meaningless.
Both Bob and Charlotte are smarter than the people who surround them. They’re deeper. They have real emotions opposed to hotel’s members who are robot-like, flowing on the surface, like they’re in a constant state of sleep-walking. They form a tender friendship that’s right on the edge of becoming romantic, but ultimately is innocent. They’re opening up to each other.  They help each other find their paths, giving each other hope. They bring happiness into each other’s lives. Charlotte can’t feel anything at the beginning. She visits a temple and has no reaction to it. But at the end, when she goes back to the same spot, it evokes emotions in her. She appreciates it. She can embrace the little things. Suddenly, she realises there’s meaning and purpose behind everything. She’s not empty anymore.
“The more you know who you are and what you want, the less things upset you.” – says Bob to Charlotte. He learns from being around her, and finds things in himself that were there all along, he just needed Charlotte to bring them out. He wants to make things right with his wife, and he also wants to be healthier. He starts to take care of himself.
Tokyo is the perfect backdrop ; it feels almost like an another universe. It doesn’t feel like it’s part of the real world, therefore anything that happens there, shall stay there as well. That’s how the characters feel.
Lost in Translation marks Sofia’s second film debut, first Oscar win, and admittedly her most personal piece of art. When I think about this film, I see colours in front of my eyes; deep blue and purple. It all feels like a dream. It captures the human experience. It’s timeless and forever relevant at the same time. It represents the feeling of isolation, loneliness, while showcasing unexpressed emotions. Also, the little stereotypical Asian pornography nod was priceless. The prostitute pretending she was afraid and doesn’t want to be touched, and Bob finding it annoying and odd was hilarious. The piece blends comedy and sadness together seamlessly.
Regarding the infamous whisper in the end, we may never know what they said, but we were never meant to. The film captures that has an effect for the rest of the character’s life, knowing that it has to end, and it can never be repeated again. Just as Charlotte’s points out herself : “Let’s never come here again because it will never be as much fun.”
by Eszter Jászfalvi
Eszter Jászfalvi is a 16 year old femme from Budapest, Hungary, who’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist, a budding actress, a bibliophile and a beginner cook. Her favourite films include The Virgin SuicidesMarie Antoinette, Psycho, Donnie Darko, The Imitation Game and Brokeback Mountain. She’ll watch anything that Tim Burton and Wes Anderson makes, and whatever Dane Dehaan and Mia Wasikowska acts in. She’s also a serious binge watcher of all the good shows, such as Mr. Robot, Gossip Girl, American Horror Story, Bates Motel and Reign, also Black-ish. You can find her on Instagram @esztisworld and on Tumblr at

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