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movie review - Lost in Translation

the journal of Michael Werneburg

twenty-seven years and one million words

Toronto, 2003.09.23

This is one of the best movies I've seen in quite some time. It's about two lonely Gaijin (foreigners) in Tokyo. Both are American. One - played with a brilliant touch I never would have guessed he possessed by Bill Murray - is an ageing movie star in Tokyo to shoot a series of ads. The other - played by the 19-year-old Scarlett Johannson - is a young woman who's followed her photographer husband to the city. Both find themselves killing a lot of time in their five-star hotel.

They form a friendship over their week in the hotel. Murray struggles with a failing marriage and the idiocy of filming in a location where he doesn't speak the language while Johannson (19 years old?!) struggles with the changes she sees in her husband as well as the perceived directionless she sees in her own life.

The movie somehow manages to plot a course that avoids any easy, well-worn tracks. Both seem so utterly real that while you wonder what's going to happen between them, you're never presented with anything that feels unreal.

Strongly recommended.

[ Edit, 2022. When I wrote this I was less than two years from moving to Japan. Having now lived in Tokyo for several years I get how this plays to a lot of stereotypes about Japan but I've left the review as is. ]

rand()m quote

Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson