Middle-aged American movie star Bob Harris is in Tokyo to film a personal endorsement Suntory whiskey ad solely for the Japanese market. He is past his movie star prime, but his name and image still have enough cachet for him to have gotten this lucrative $2 million job. He has an unsatisfying home life where his wife Lydia follows him wherever he goes - in the form of messages and faxes - for him to deal with the minutiae of their everyday lives, while she stays at home to look after their kids. Staying at the same upscale hotel is fellow American, twenty-something recent Yale Philosophy graduate Charlotte, her husband John, an entertainment still photographer, who is on assignment in Japan. As such, she is largely left to her own devices in the city, especially when his job takes him out of Tokyo. Both Bob and Charlotte are feeling lost by their current situations, which are not helped by the cultural barriers they feel in Tokyo, those cultural barriers extending far beyond just not...Written by
Are you familiar with the agony of having to confront most of your friends with your (very) negative assessment of a movie everyone loves? It never hit me so hard as with Lost in Translation, a sad monument to vanity and contempt. Two aspects of that film made it particularly unpleasant: the use of clichés, and the very poor tailoring of scenes.
I suppose the foggy poetry of the title explains the distance with which everything is filmed, and the particularly painful impression that everything taking place on the screen is in fact happening behind a bullet-proof window. Every time something a little significant threatens to occur (physical or verbal contact between the two main characters, a twist in the plot...), the scene is cut short. Now I very well understand that this may be considered a rather clever technique, and I can appreciate the understated aesthetics of it all, but this is going too far, and turns into a farce: we're asked to PRETEND that something meaningful is taking place between the scenes, or inside the character's heads. What a fraud.
Now back to the multitude of clichés that are used throughout the movie, particularly to depict the Japanese, cultural and everyday Japan, but also show-business relationships, what happens after 20 years of marriage, expatriates, the shallow side of young and successful Americans, etc. This is a feature that many people commended, arguing that it was a rather subtle, elegant and ironic treatment of the issue of cultural shock in particular and inter-cultural contact in general. I only see contempt for the world at large, a very crude perception and rendering of other human beings, and a terribly self-indulgent narration technique. No effort of understanding each snapshot, nor any attempt to brush an overall picture: what was the point?!
All in all, I did not enjoy this movie. Except during the very rare moments of humor ("for relaxing time, make it Suntory time"), it was not pleasant at all to watch. 1/10
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