Lost in Translation seems to be persistently misunderstood

The movie is told from Bob Harris's point of view

Even quite clever people seem to persist in (in my opinion) misunderstanding the movie Lost in Translation. It's a small movie; it doesn't attempt to address any large or difficult questions or show us anything particularly remarkable. A buddy said that it's about the triumph of friendship over jet lag and I don't have a better description. But some folks call it racist and others, more mildly, criticize it for making lame and tired jokes about Japanese people. What those folks are missing, in my opinion, is that the movie isn't being told "straight". It's being told from the point of view of Bob Harris, the Bill Murray character. Of course, an unreliable narrator isn't as obvious in a movie as it is in a book; movies tend to look objective. It's not as though the camera shows us the view from Bob Harris's eyes. But Lost in Translation makes much more sense if you take it as being told from his point of view. The Japanese people in the movie do appear silly in cliched ways. But those cliches are just the sort that would match the preconceptions of a has-been American actor who last did anything successful in the 1970s. And we see other things in the movie from Bob Harris's point of view. In the telephone calls he has with his wife, for example, we get a one-sided view that's more obviously Bob Harris's. The movie does make fun of people, but it's not Japanese people who are being made fun of, it's people like Bob Harris who don't see beyond their preconceptions.

Oh, and Suntory whiskey can be quite good.

Posted: Sat - December 4, 2004 at 08:55   Main   Category: