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The Lost in Translation Soundtrack Makes me Pine for Every Stranger I Was Too Scared to Give my Number To

Coppola's choice of songs will turn anyone into an emotional sap capable of actual feelings.

Lost In Translation is a cult classic and not just because it’s the first in a line of films where we get to see a shot of Scarlett Johansson’s ass. To some it’s just a quiet film filled with a lot of eye-fucking from Scar and co-star Bill Murray, but for Pinterest-fixated, Perks of a Wallflower-reading teens it’s become a religion. In the 11 years since it was released, so much romantic subtext has been laden on the film that director Sofia Coppola’s insistence of it being “just a friendship” seems about as plausible as A$AP and Kathy Griffin insisting that honestly there’s literally no sexual tension between them at all.


The film is essentially a vehicle for Bill and Scarlett to wander aimlessly around Japan’s capital, having mid and quarter-life crises that they try to bury by filling their days with expensive liquor and parties. That’s all fine until they start bonding over a self-help tape about finding life’s true purpose which, according to some people, isn’t actually just expensive liquor and parties. Who knew? The film is about lost connections and new connections and it’s refreshing because its main female protagonist hasn’t been written with the intention of fluttering her eyelashes until someone walks up to her at the bar—she’s the one who’s sending whiskey over the table.

My own introduction to Lost In Translation was a mixed one. Between held shots of distant longing and ScarJo throwing shade at her pretentious photographer husband, it seemed like nothing more than an elaborate tourist advert for Tokyo with some recognisable faces chucked in. By my second viewing though, I found myself sipping an Old Fashioned, browsing Japan Airlines, and working out the nearest spot to cruise for a will we/won’t we male cougar.

Part of me was rooting for Murray and ScarJo to stop fucking around and actually fuck, but I also realized that the soundtrack—comprising mostly of French pop, shoegaze and ambient electronica—was a dream. Despite all the accolades and awards the film has won, the soundtrack recieved nothing as it wasn't an original score. Yet, in a film known for its silence, the music often explains as much as the dialogue does.

For a start, we’re not only given insight into the love lives of these miserable, lost characters but also Coppola’s. ScarJo’s neglecting douchebag husband is a characterization of her ex Spike Jonze, whereas now Coppola is married to Thomas Mars whose band Phoenix gave “Too Young” for the playful party scene that ends in a bartender getting overly enthusiastic with a BB-gun. The song is also a pretty literal reminder that, even though you’ve totally got lost in the sexual frisson between the two, fucking someone your dad’s age is kind of grim.