Lost in Translation, hypnotically written and directed by Sofia Coppola, manages to still be one of the most relevant and honest films of this century, even fifteen years later. What more can be said of Coppola’s love masterpiece that hasn’t been already? From Scarlett Johansson’s tired but sweet voice, to the last said thing between them.
What struck me this viewing were all the ‘missed’ moments. The little moments between two people that just fizzled out, maybe not in a big glorious disaster, but in a faint intimate whimper. There are so many of these moments strung throughout the film. What is so beautiful and heartbreaking about Coppola’s film are all the quiet moments that you pick up each viewing. In one viewing you may notice something totally new. That is what is so great about this film with each viewing. It grows and evolves with you as you come back and revisit it with older, wiser eyes. Below I will explore and rank just five of those intimate moments I noticed in this viewing.
This one is tricky because it isn’t a direct interaction but a clear sign of where Bob is when he has first arrived in Tokyo. He is lost and scared. He would never approach or say anything to this woman in the elevator, but this is the first we see of this initial draw he has towards Charlotte. It is brief and even is referenced later. That is why I am adding this moment to the list. Bob brings up the first time they saw each other, and Charlotte doesn’t even remember the elevator, but Bob did.
This scene is both cringe-inducing and heartbreaking to see. What Charlotte and John have here is the strain in their still very early marriage. It is just after they run into Kelly that the moment happens. Charlotte expresses an opinion on Kelly which John fights against. Rather than fight it back, Charlotte gives up, maybe because she knows when it isn’t worth it.
Revisiting this film, the Bob and wife storyline was one of my favorites. It is hilarious yet heartbreaking. It isn’t about the carpets or any of the office stuff. It is about his home and what he is away from. One of my favorite scenes revolving around this plot was when Bob talked about his children. He said it all changes when the kids come around. Coppola does a beautiful job contrasting the two year old marriage with the twenty-five. There are different issues and arguments, but it all boils down to the same deal. A loss of passion and heart in what is there. Does Bob really care about the color carpet he has? Does anyone?
This is such a tiny moment, and one I think is missed. I certainly missed. We don’t know much about this phone call, who is on the other line, what their relationship to Charlotte is, but what we do see is what Charlotte wants, or rather needs. She doesn’t have affection, love, or anyone to just listen to her. She calls this mystery person, and she gets nothing she wants. What is so beautiful about this scene is its brevity on the character. Charlotte is reaching out, trying to grab hold of something, someone, anything, but she just quietly falls with no one to catch her. I loved this moment because of how subtly the desire of the character is portrayed, yet how clear and present it is for us.
Lost in Translation played at the San Francisco Roxie Theater on 35mm print and was hosted by MiDNiTES for MANiACS.