Sunday, 9 April 2017

Lost in Translation

For a long time, I considered that I didn't have a favourite film. During my teenage years, and into my early twenties, one of the TV stations here in the UK would regularly broadcast foreign language films late at night. Occasionally, I'd watch one that I would connect with in some way: some feeling expressed chimed with something within me.

That brings me to Lost in Translation. It's my favourite film to watch late at night, without a doubt, and I once told a friend as much. Her reply was that the film has a very specific feeling to it, and she wondered if I could put that feeling into words. I couldn't.

The story is essentially about an affair of sorts, between a man who is of a greater age than the object of his affection, and that younger woman who seems to feel the same way about him. I struggled with this, because I wondered what connecting with this subject matter said about me, but I realised that it was something beneath the surface of the narrative that spoke so clearly to me. It was, as my friend had highlighted, all about the specific feeling of the film.

It's no accident that the story is set in Japan, and that much is made of the American leads coming to terms with being somewhere that is strange to them. In fact, it's the young woman who seems more familiar and at ease with being there, in contrast to the middle aged gentleman who is not just feeling uncomfortable with where he is in terms of geography, but also seems to be feeling a great deal of difficulty with where he is in life at this time. However, there is a point where she contacts a member of her family by phone and breaks down while talking to them, while they seem to be ignorant of how she feels, or at least show little empathy for her.

To me, the film is about yearning for a sense that we are loved, and that there is somewhere we feel we belong. In response to my friend's question about the feeling of the film, I'd say it's about feeling isolated, out of place, and finding that one person who understands and relates to you. Why is it my favourite film to watch late at night? I'll leave you to join most of those dots for yourself.

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