Two lost souls visiting Tokyo -- the young, neglected wife of a photographer and a washed-up movie star shooting a TV commercial -- find an odd solace and pensive freedom to be real in each other's company, away from their lives in America.
Their misunderstanding and uncertainty of Japanese culture serves as a metaphor for the derailing of lovable connections within the personal spheres. […] Some critics and audiences have argued that the film is somewhat racist in its depiction of the Japanese, [but] this is the way Bob sees Japan; it’s the way the movie presents it to us from Bob’s perspective. Notice the difference when the vantage point is from Charlotte’s perspective. Her way of seeing Japan is from arm's length whether it be in a monastery or in a crowded arcade amusement, and when a friendly Japanese woman says hello to her in Japanese where women are setting up bouquets, she is more embarrassed by her own language limitations.
Coppola’s intention was to [end] her millennial riff on Brief Encounter with a question mark, so she did.
— Adam Nayman (The Ringer)