Lost in Translation relies heavily on the chemistry of its two leads, and both Scarlett Johannson and Bill Murray were definitely up for the challenge.
Johannson’s Charlotte is a confused young woman, a recent college graduate who questions her decision to travel to Japan with her new husband. There are wonderfully observant scenes iwhere Charlotte, left alone in a strange country, wanders through Tokyo and the surrounding area. She sees a great deal of the city, and even makes some interesting discoveries, yet remains confused, lost, looking for something, anything, to help her find her way.
As portrayed by Bill Murray, Bob Harris is a more passive traveler, choosing to stay within the confines of the hotel, never venturing out into the open air. Bill Murray brings a range of elements to his performance, from humor (the scenes where he’s shooting the whiskey commercial are hilarious) to a sense of despondency (a phone conversation with his wife is strained at best). Murray’s character is seemingly trapped in a country where he does not fit in.
And then Bob meets Charlotte. Charlotte is finally able to lure Bob out of the hotel, inviting him along to a party being thrown by several of her new Japanese friends. In what is the film’s most uplifting, defining moment, Bob and Charlotte end up at a karaoke bar. As Charlotte sings The Pretenders hit song, Brass in Pocket, Bob watches her, and as Bob sings Roxy Music’s More Than This. Charlotte watches him. In this one scene, we can see in their eyes the bond that has just formed between them. Bob has found his much-needed spark, and Charlotte has found her guide.
The Tokyo experience has just improved by leaps and bounds for both of them.
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