Film Study – Lost in Translation

At the beginning of the film, we see character Bob observing Tokyo from his car. He notices a huge picture of him from a Whiskey commercial. That shot becomes unusual later (but only for few viewers who notice this detail) because he has just arrived in Tokyo to shoot that commercial.

Lost in a Translation is a minimal masterpiece with a very subtle drama between two protagonists. At first glance, it seems there is no real story. Bob and Charlotte meet, become friends and before they get involved they have to say goodbye to each other. The story reminds me of Wong Kar Wai film In the Mood for Love which had a really slow pace and becomes almost pathetic at various points. It was also too long for many critics.

How on earth could Lost in Translation be not only watchable but mind-blowing for the whole 104 minutes? We would expect a film with at least slower pace. Far from it. Lost in Translation is a film that flows. Not many films achieve this aura of perfectionism. Every shot is exactly where it belongs.
Almost every “cookbook” about scriptwriting preaches how it’s necessary to “raise the stake” in the story.
What does the protagonist stand to lose if he does not get what he wants? What’s the worst thing that will happen to the protagonist if he does not achieve his desire? If this question cannot be answered in a compelling way, the story is misconceived at its core. For example, if the answer is: “Should the protagonist fail, life would go back to normal,” this story is not worth telling.
Robert McKee, story

Lost in Translation

In Lost in Translation, there is not much at stake for both of the protagonists. He can easily divorce and so can she. Both of them probably will – sooner or later. They are both financially independent, have nothing to lose. So, in theory, this story is not worth telling. The story is so compelling because it’s sincere and highly emotional on many levels.