Julian Towers’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film is beloved by a few of my favorite people on here, and obviously I don’t intend to tether their entirely valid emotional reaction to the rather disgusting culture I see embodied and enabled within this film. Still... I must insist we say “fuck you” to blinkered western myopia in all its forms. Cause, listen, asshole— when people (All people) go abroad *they’re* the ones who should look/feel ridiculous, and not the culture they encounter. And If the counter-argument is that in reversing this fact Coppola is simulating the sad ivory tower effect that the Murray character’s celebrity has on people, why does this need to be set abroad at all? Cause hahaha Japanese Jimmy Fallon is wacky? I thought so.
Still, I tried to look past it. I really did. Winced a little when one of the first few shots was a sight gag about short Asian men, struggled to contain the rage building within me during the phonetic humiliation of the prostitute, and finally lost it during the commercial scene (where the humor is so specifically calibrated towards western audiences who don’t know Japanese you have to wonder if Sofia even cared if other audiences saw her film. Likewise the big cross-cultural bonding scene, where characters white and yellow come together over their shared love for... 1980s British New Wave Karaoke.)
But hey. Maybe I’d put up with all the hammy, frankly racist distance Coppola imposes if it were used to burrow compellingly into Murray and Johansson. But OH MY GAWD. The ennui is so studied and phony. Like JFC Bill Murray saying I love you to his wife *right* when she hangs up the phone. I MEAN AT LEAST It’s not JUST colored people! Coppola can only gather empathy for the lonely plight of her main characters by directing contempt at EVERYONE else on screen (poor Anna Farris).
Honestly kinda shocked the same woman who directed this also made Marie Antoinette (which I quite like!). I mean obviously both films are very equally about the sadness of being adrift in ones own privilege. But there the solution came in the form of the outside world, politics, the movement of the people; here the best way out of your misery is just finding another sad sack and burrowing deeper within. I really don’t agree.