Study Guide

Lost in Translation Summary

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Lost in Translation Summary

Bob Harris is in Tokyo to shoot a commercial for Suntory whisky. He's an American movie star, but nowadays, he feels like a has-been. He feels distant from his wife and kids; he's lonely and lost.

Meanwhile, recent Yale grad Charlotte is staying at the same Tokyo hotel with her husband John, who's in town on business as a photographer. She's equally isolated and spends a lot of time sitting in the window of her Park Hyatt room, watching the bustling city below like a strawberry blonde gargoyle.

On his first full day in Tokyo, Bob and Charlotte spot each other in the hotel elevator. To be fair, he's kind of hard to miss since he's a foot taller than everyone else. She smiles. Then he leaves to shoot the Suntory commercial. On set, he feels confused and frustrated as the director rattles off lengthy instructions that Bob's interpreter boils down to simple things like how he should turn his head to the right.

That same day, Charlotte visits a temple. Afterward, she calls a friend back in the states, trying to hold back tears. She's concerned that she didn't feel anything when she watched the monks chanting, and she feels like she doesn't know who she married. For starters, John's started using hair products. Oh, the horror.

The following afternoon, Bob does a photo shoot for Suntory. That evening, he and Charlotte catch each other's eyes again across the hotel bar. She has the waiter bring Bob her table's snack mix. He waves his thanks and leaves, snack mix in hand.

The next day, Charlotte and John bump into Kelly, a vapid actress that John knows from work. Back in the room, she listens to a soul-searching audio book on CD. Then she takes a walk around the hotel: she pops in to listen to Kelly field questions about the action pic she's in town to promote and drops in on some flower arranging. When she can't sleep that night, she goes down to the hotel bar, where she meets Bob, for real, for the first time.

Charlotte spends the next day wandering around Tokyo. That night, she and John meet Kelly and Kelly's friend for drinks in the hotel bar. Charlotte's bored out of her gourd. She spots Bob at the bar and joins him. They joke about planning a prison break.

The following night, Bob goes out on the town with Charlotte and her friend Charlie Brown (not that Charlie Brown). They go to a bar and a house party, then they warble out some karaoke. At the end of a very late, very fun night, Bob carries a sleeping Charlotte back to her room and tucks her in. He has the next day off (phew!), and spends part of it golfing in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.

At lunch the next day, Charlotte shows Bob her injured toe and he jokingly blows it up into a big deal. He takes her to the emergency room and generally makes a big fuss about her; she gets X-rays. That night, they meet up with Charlie Brown again at a club. It turns out to be a strip club, so Bob and Charlotte bolt, opting instead to run around the streets of Tokyo together. Late that night when they both can't sleep, they hang out in Bob's room. They watch an old movie on TV, then talk about marriage, kids—you know, casual, fun topics.

Charlotte says she's stuck; Bob tells her she's not hopeless.

The next day, Bob films a late-night talk show appearance. That night, he drinks one too many and sleeps with the lead singer of the hotel bar band, Sausalito. When Charlotte stops by his room the following morning, she hears the singer singing in the background. They meet for a tense and super-awkward lunch, but make up when they're both forced outside in their jammies that night because the Park Hyatt's fire alarm is going off.

On Bob's last day in Tokyo, he and Charlotte say their goodbyes in the hotel lobby as the Suntory execs hang out nearby. Bob's car takes him to the airport; Charlotte heads out into the city for the day. On his way to catch his flight, Bob sees Charlotte walking in the crowd and has the driver pull over. He chases her down, kisses her, and whispers something in her ear that we can't hear. "Okay," Charlotte replies with a tearful smile. He kisses her again, then heads back to his car.

In the car, Bob's all smiles as he winds his way out of Tokyo. What did he say?

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