Charlotte: So, what are you doing here?
Bob: A couple of things: taking a break from my wife, forgetting my son’s birthday, and getting two million dollars to endorse a whiskey when I could be doing a play somewhere.
Bob: But the good news is, the whiskey works.
Bob is a middle-aged actor whose career is on the wane. Except in Japan, where he is the revered and sophisticated pitchman for Suntory Whiskey. In Tokyo for a week-long publicity tour and photography session, Bob finds himself jet-lagged, culture-shocked and plagued by insomnia. Baffled by a society he doesn’t understand, exhausted and alone, he begins to question the choices that got him there. Bob has money and fame, but it has all come at a price: his wife of 26 years has learned to live without him, he is a stranger to his children, and on his son’s birthday he finds himself alone in a Tokyo bar listening to cheesy music.
Charlotte is a young woman who has yet to figure out who she is or what she wants from life. John, her husband of two years, is a successful photographer, but the demands of his career have left little time for marriage. She tags along to a photo shoot in Tokyo, but quickly realizes that she is in the way. Jet-lagged, bored and alone, Tokyo becomes the place where Charlotte, too, looks for answers.
Sofia Coppola’s Academy Award winning movie is about friendships and the choices we make that sabotage them. Success, money and fame sing to us like the Sirens. But at the end of the day, if we don’t have someone to love, we have nothing at all.
It’s an age-old lesson: what our hearts long for more anything else is to be understood, cherished, loved, needed. Everything else pales by comparison.
In Coppola’s film, Tokyo becomes a symbol of empty materialism. Bob and Charlotte find nothing fulfilling there, until they find each other. They connect, they talk, and in their budding friendship they begin to figure out where their lives went wrong.
The heart of God is relational, and so it shouldn’t surprise that God created us to thrive in love and relationships. We were not meant to be alone. Money, sex, power—none of these are as satisfying to our souls as a good friend.
Soffia Coppola has created a beautiful and thought-provoking movie about what is really valuable, and how easily we are seduced into choosing all of the wrong things.
You’ll find the Hollywood Jesus review of Lost in Translation here. (Lots of graphics—requires a high-speed connection.)