Study Guide

Lost in Translation Genre

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Drama; Comedy

Lost in Translation has all the hallmarks of a dramatic film: A long-distance relationship on the brink of disaster. Meaningful glances across a crowded hotel bar. Karaoke.

The story has stakes, and it wouldn't be a drama without 'em. People's feelings are involved; people get hurt. They laugh. They cry. But mainly they laugh.

That's because Lost in Translation is also a comedy. Bob and Charlotte's back-and-forth is often witty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. These two kindred spirits make each other laugh, and they make the audience laugh, too.

In some respects, the film’s also a comedy of manners. It yanks out humor from the culture clash and language barriers that Bob experiences, especially during his Suntory commercial and photo shoots:

NAKA: You want a whiskey?

BOB: This is not whiskey. This is iced tea. If you gave me real whiskey…

NAKA: I need mysterious face. Can you show us mysterious? Mysterious.

BOB: I think I know what you want. You want this, right?
(Bob places his hand over the side of his face, fingers parted so you can see his eye.)

NAKA: I need more mysterious.

BOB: More mysterious, yeah. I'll just try to think, "Where the hell's the whiskey?"

As a genre, comedies also tend to revolve around one bankable star, usually an established comedian of some sort (like a stand-up, for example, or someone who's part of a sketch show). In Lost in Translation, that's obviously our main man Giovanni Ribisi.

Kidding, kidding. Of course, it's Bill Murray. Dude's a legend. He famously tones town his Peter Venkman/Nick the Lounge Singer comedic style for this film, though, and he got rave reviews for it.

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