Insomnia can be an antechamber to hell. Sleepless nights are the synonym of torment – they turn existence into the never-ending distress. One hour last forever, one night feels like one week. We remain in the timelessness – emptiness and passivity fill our minds. In Sofia Coppola’s movie ‘Lost in Translation’ insomnia becomes something different – the initial anguish turns into an opportunity for an examination of two restless consciences.
‘Lost in Translation’ tells the story of a faded movie star (incredible Bill Murray) and a neglected young woman (very good Scarlett Johansson) who meet in a Japanese hotel bar. He scoops millions for advertising whiskey, she came to the land of a blooming cherry with her husband, who is a photographer of celebrities. They spend their sleepless night thinking of apathy, in which they last. Age difference turns to be irrelevant – common experiences makes them get closer to each other. Hopeless nights become a time of existential talks that not only let them kill the time, but also make them look into their own souls. Inexpressible grief, repressed fears and painful disappointments finally become visible. Coppola focuses on presenting the birth of a feeling that is neither erotic nor purely platonic. Charlotte and Bob aren’t presented as sinful lovers, but as soul mates, which makes their relation subtle and not obvious. The director highlights the meaning of meeting with The Other – it’s the only way of defining and understanding ‘self’.
Coppola is trying to express what’s elusive – what is always lost in translation. Words and actions in her movie are less important than gestures. For example: erotic tension between Charlotte and Bob is not named directly. They don’t talk about their unlikely bond, but they bodies signalizes very concrete emotions. Coppola seems to be a master of subtlety and understatement, but on the other hand this trick wears out quickly and the whole movie becomes a composition of repetitions and predictable movements. Nevertheless, ‘Lost in Translation’ is not a bad or unsuccessful movie. Its dreamy poetics corresponds to the mood of the protagonist, which makes it a consistent and enjoyable story that can be both – metaphorical and literal – depends on the translation.