Lost in Translation (2003) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Some of the greatest films ever produced explore the complexity of human relationships.  Famous examples include the “Best Picture” winner Annie Hall (1977) and the “Best Picture” nominee Her (2013).  One of the main reasons as to why people make art is to understand what it means to be human through creative expression.  That is why films like Annie Hall, Her, and Lost in Translation all won the Academy Award for “Best Original Screenplay.”  It is because they delve deep into what it means to be human.  Therefore, Lost in Translation remains a contemporary classic because it is a modern love story even though it was originally released way back in 2003.

A Toast

Lost in Translation might not have achieved the same amount of critical and commercial success as the same year’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, but it is still a wonderful film given its complicated subject matter.  Bill Murray delivers a career-defining performance as Bob Harris, a man struggling to understand the foreign Japanese environment that surrounds him while also having to cope with an atypical romance with Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson.

It is a bit of a shame that Scarlett Johansson failed to acquire an Academy Award nomination for playing such a complex leading lady.  Nevertheless, the best aspect of this film is its screenplay because the film openly displays a concept called “intercultural communication,” which basically explores how people of different races and cultures communicate with one another in spite of the differences that might try to separate them.  Some audiences might criticize this film as being a bit boring, but sometimes films have to lose some of their entertainment value in order to examine what life truly means.  All of these reasons support the notion that Lost in Translation is one of the best films in modern times (as of 2019).


Understanding people from different backgrounds can definitely be challenging.  The Bible describes the famous story of the Tower of Babel, and that Biblical tale explains why foreign languages can potentially create confusion.  Some might say that “love” is the most complicated language of all, but it is nice to know that films like Lost in Translation can help viewers learn more about themselves and life itself, teaching us what it means to be human.

Lost in Translation (2003) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time this film displays the beauty of Tokyo

Take a Drink: for every brilliant line in Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning screenplay

Have a Drink of Your Choice: whenever there are scenes in bars and/or when the characters drink alcohol (like whiskey)

And Do Not Be Sober: as this powerful film explores loneliness, identity, and philosophy within its foreign Japanese setting

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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