LOST IN TRANSLATION: A DIVE INTO ISOLATION AND DISSATISFACTION

‘Lost in Translation’ is a Romance/Drama by Sofia Coppola; a 2003 film that follows characters Charlotte and Bob, and their respective dissatisfaction for their trips to Tokyo. Through their glances across a hotel, a friendship is built where each learn about their counterpart’s life, and take good lessons from each other. Bob sums this up perfectly in his line: “The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

I, personally, had never watched the film before, but had heard my friends rant and rave about it, telling me I would love it and it was their favourite film ever. So, on a gloomy Wednesday night, I tucked myself up with a hot chocolate and a tub of ice-cream and began the journey into ‘Lost in Translation’.

From the get-go I knew why this film was so loved; the cinematography and lighting were stunning, never mind the beautiful sound and storyline. Everything just slot together perfectly. I found it so easy to relate to both Bob and Charlotte; Charlotte gets left behind by her photographer boyfriend and finds herself aimlessly wandering around the Hotel and the city; Bob is doing a job he does not enjoy and has no passion for. It’s quite easy to feel both ends of the spectrum- to feel left behind when people you love go off and do big things, but respectively, when you go off and do big things, to only find they aren’t what you thought they were.

I connected more with Charlotte than Bob, probably because she is a woman and is closer to my age, with a similar feeling of isolation (uni halls have felt a lot like the hotel in this film, and the outside world as merely something to observe, rather than to live in). She gets caught up in conversations with her husband and Kelly where she feels like an outsider to their world of photography, money, fortune and fame. It’s clear that Charlotte does not value this, and instead wants to lead a life of passion, intrigue and discovery, as well as having small moments of intimacy rather than the saturation of fame and fortune.

Bob similarly mirrors this; he lacks interest in the ad he is making for Whiskey, and instead has enjoyed small moments with Charlotte where they run through the streets of Tokyo together, or merely just get a drink at the hotel bar. I think its safe to say that these two characters show our inner need for genuine human connection, as apposed to the lack thereof that comes with the idea of fame.

This film teaches a lot about isolation; though Charlotte is left alone, she visits temples and arcades on her own, seeking some sense of exploration in an unknown city. And yet, she comes up empty-handed. She calls friends from home, expressing how unhappy she is, only to be told they are busy. She yearns for genuine human connection, and that is why I personally believe she is drawn to Bob. He is also searching for human connection; though he encounters many people everyday, it is evident that Bob is not happy within his current work. He is not treated as an everyday human, instead he is glamourised and made to be something bigger than himself. He has a connection with Charlotte because she treats him like a normal person, rather than someone to be idolised. He also finds a lack of connection in his relationship with his wife, who blames him for leaving his children, but who also has no time to actually listen to what he has to say.

I believe this film has so much to say on so many different topics- isolation, dissatisfaction, connection, passion, intrigue and self discovery. Both characters are on a journey to find what they love in life and what they need. It’s also important to realise the age gap of nearly 30 years between these two characters, and how they are both still on similar journeys- the film essentially saying it is ok to not know what you want to do or who you are, no matter what age you are. As Charlotte puts it: ” I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.” and, as the film tells us, that is ok.

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