Meditative character study about the special relationship that forms between two strangers in a strange land. Fading Hollywood star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is in Japan to shoot a commercial, being paid a small fortune for what he ultimately considers an artistically empty and unrewarding experience. In his downtime at the hotel, he meets an unhappily married young American woman (Scarlet Johansson), staying with her emotionally distant and rather vapid husband. Left to their own devices, and utterly alone in their unfamiliar surroundings, the two form an unlikely bond as they attempt to come to terms with feeling lost and directionless at different points in their lives.
Sofia Coppola, who wrote and directed, offers profound insights into these characters and situations drawn from her own experiences, without ever resorting to the kind of predictable, lazy navel-gazing so common in this type of film. Murray's older, wiser, world-weary actor makes for a good contrast with Johansson's sensitive but ultimately immature young woman, both struggling to find meaning and to deal with the damaged relationships in their lives. It's a bittersweet story about "what might have been".