Tokyo Fiancée (2014) - full transcript

A young Japanophile Belgian woman in Tokyo falls into a whirlwind romance with a Francophile Japanese student.

l was 20.

l wanted to be Japanese,
it was my sole ambition.

By chance, l was born in Japan.

That should've helped, but chance is fickle.

My parents were Belgian, not Japanese.

They worked in Japan.

When l was 5 they went back to Belgium,
taking me with them.

During childhood and adolescence,
l dreamed of one thing:

to return to Japan to become what,
despite appearances, l was,

a real Japanese.

One day l bought a one-way ticket to Tokyo.

l arrived with only my 20 years.

Actually, l wanted to be more than Japanese.

l also wanted to be a writer.

l wanted to be a venerable Japanese writer.

lt would be more complicated,

but that's another story.

No, in fact, it's the same story.


Yes, it's me.

Yes, l am the French teacher, yes.

Yes, wait a second please.

Yes, on the twen...That's tomorrow!

Rich Café.

Ah in French: Riche Café. ln Omote-Sando.

See you tomorrow. Yes...bye.

How will l recognize you?


For some reason l recognized him right away.

Sorry, l didn't catch your name yesterday.


l see, Rinri. Good.

Can l have also your name?


Could you write it? l'm sorry.


Yes. Good. Amélie.

l'm from Belgium.

No, that's alright.

Let's speak French.

Say something in French.

-lt's raining.
-Yes, it's raining. Right.

Do you often come to this café?

This café, do you like it?

This café...

is a place...

Young public...

come here.

Very good...l'm sorry.

No, that's good. Go on.

-l'm sorry.
-No, that's fine.

Here's my Japanese...

Who taught you Japanese, a five-year-old?

Sort of. The child was me. l was born here.

You were born Japan?

Yes, in Kansai, near Kobe.

l was 5 when l left. l just came back.

You just return Japan?

l'm sorry.

Let's continue.

What food do you like?

What do you like to eat?

Don't know it. ls it Japanese?

-Tamago. Egg.


Yes, better. That's better.

Monday, 1 0 a.m., possible?

1 0 a.m., possible.

l'll call you.

No, it was just to see. l...

Thank you.

ln Tokyo l awoke each day
filled with inexplicable happiness.

The simple happiness of being alive.

To celebrate my 1 0th day in Japan
as an adult,

l took the tram.

The rooftops, streets, temples,
bikes, pedestrians, cats,

passengers...they all said
they'd been waiting for me,

that they'd missed me,

that order had been restored,

and that my reign would last 1 0,000 years.

My megalomania has always had a lyrical streak.

Whatever. l was now an eminent French teacher.

l had one student.

What does your father do?

My father



He's in business. What kind of business?

What kind?

l'm sorry. lt's difficult.


He's in jewelry.

Even l find it hard to pronounce.


-l'm sorry.
-No, your French is improving.

Your pronunciation, everything is very good.

Hello, Rinri

Hiroki's a friend of mine.

He speaks a little French.

Let's speak French then.

l present Hiroki, my friend.
l present Amélie, my mistress.

-A pleasure.
-Me too.

Are you studying French?


Christine! Everyone's here!

Are things going well in Tokyo?

Yes, fine. This is...

l'm Rinri. l present Hiroki, my friend.

-l present Amélie, my mistress.

She's at the Canadian embassy.

You're both Canada?

No, Christine's from Québec.

And Amélie's Belgian.

-You both speak French?

-Thanks to Amélie. She...
-l give him French lessons.

Private lessons are the best way.

-Will you join us?
-Thanks, but l have a meeting.

l'll call you. Bravo!

The next Saturday,
Rinri invited me to a friend's party.

He'd pick me up in his car.

That's better.


ls this your car?


lt's my father's car.

Right. l thought so.

Hey Yasmine!

l'm so happy to see you.

This is Amélie.

-You're Belgian?

-ls the accent that obvious?
-And how!

Where are you from?


Right, of course.

-Hello. l'm Hara.

-l'm Amélie.

lt's Belgian beer.

Thank you.

l didn't know there was a band.

Yes. Sit down, please. Play.

l don't play music.

ln Japanese, not working is asobu.

lf you're not working, you're playing.

l know.

Well, excuse me!

-You're the chef tonight?
-Yes.You're the chef tonight?

Rinri's a great cook, you know.

Just look at him.

What's that?

-And this?


-Shrimps. That's the Belgian word.

That's the French word too.

Rinri, is that okonomiyaki you're making?


You know okonomiyaki?

l've had okonomiyaki, with Hiroshima sauce.

Would you like more?

You can get it in Paris.
On rue Ste-Anne they have okonomiyaki.

Rue Ste-Anne is in Paris.

Our Japanese nanny made them.

What did you say?

Amélie was born in Japan.


How'd you pull that off?

Masa asks if you have Japanese citizenship.

Being born here isn't enough.

Hiroki says, "lt's true, it isn't enough."

There's sauce on your chin.

Humor, the last barrier
to universal understanding...

Even today, l wonder

what was so funny about
having sauce on my chin.

Still, it had been a wonderful evening.

l had work, friends...

an enemy...

l felt like l belonged.

Where did you see my ad?


The ad for French lessons.

No, one of my father's workers see ad.

And l had Rinri, my pupil.


No, that's not how it'll end.

l hadn't started writing.

l couldn't do everything, could l?

-Hello, Amélie.
-Hello, Rinri.

Where'll we have the lesson?

-My house.
-Your house?

-ls this it?

We are honored.

This is my French teacher,
the honorable Amélie.

-Please be welcome.
-lt's a great pleasure.


honor us by sitting.

Let's begin.

Have you lived in this house long?


Answer with a sentence.


l lived house a long time.

ln this house.

lt's a magnificent house, too.



Do you read French books?


What are you reading?

A book. How to Become a Knight Templar.

How to Become a Knight Templar?


l want to become a Templar.

After that peculiar lesson...very peculiar...

l avoided Rinri's family.

We met in a café l liked

in the lidabashi district.

You call like this:

"Call Rinri."

For you.

Thank you, that's kind.

ln Tokyo you need cell phone.

lt's my first cell phone.

Do you have my number?

Yes, l have your number.

When it rings, l'll know it's you.

-For the lesson.
-Forget it! lt's free. For the lesson.

l'll drive you home?

l'll take the metro.

Next lesson,

-Call me?

Bye bye.

Hello, Rinri.

Yes, it's Amélie.

Sorry, l was in my Japanese class,
l couldn't answer.

Next lesson, at your house?

Why don't we go to a café, as usual?

l see, they're gone.

Alright then.

Fruit joo...?

Fruit juicer.


A large fruit juicer.


Does this thing make coffee?


A hot-chocolate machine.

Electronic chocolate machine.

An electronic hot-chocolate machine.

Yes. A vac...

Vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum cleaning robot.

-Yes, vacuum cleaning robot.
-Apple peeler.



normal apple peeler.

What's this?

Pizza heater.

A pizza heater?

Essential in Japan.

Visit the house? Would you like?


Automatic colored water.

Very fun.

To slim your face.

lt's the same like this.

Careful, it's my mother's.

This is my room.


Stendhal is...


Yes, that's the word. Bravo.

What's that?

My parents me gave a little tog.

My parents

gave me a little dog.


l don't know...

Great collection of films.


they're yakuza films.

All of them?

Yes, all of them.

And what's a yakuza film?

Rinri, please turn it off.


Let's do an activity-based lesson.


-We could go for a walk.

-Show me Tokyo.

Tokyo very big!

A spot.

A spot?

Show me a spot in Tokyo that you like.

ls it here?



l like the...

How do you say?

Point of view.

Why do we formal "vous"?

Why do we use "vous"?

Because l'm your teacher.

May l ask you something?


ls your father a yakuza?


You want to see exhibition?

There's nothing here.

Yes there is!

lt's beautiful.

ls it a joke?

l don't know.

Rinri, show me more things that l don't see.


Are you sure?

The view is impressive.

Your French is improving.

Thank you, mistress.

May l pick you up Thursday?

For a lesson?

Yes, a lesson.

And to show more Japan things.

And to show you more Japanese things.

My literary career was less successful

than my meteoric assimilation
into Japanese life.

l just needed patience.

Patience, patience in the blue air,

each atom of silence is
the chance of a ripe fruit.

Then came a period when French classes

morphed into a guided tour of Tokyo.

Rinri's Tokyo,

always somewhat baffling.

Here is old stadium.

Ever bring a girlfriend here?

l have no girlfriend.

l don't have a girlfriend.

l'm sorry.

Stop apologizing.

You're here to learn.

What's he doing?

Singing practice.

He sings over the trains.

Yes, so he does not disturb.

What do you want?

To speak French.

Yes, but later? l mean, in life.

-And you?

l want to be a writer.

-Not Japanese?
-l am Japanese.

And you? Use a sentence.

l want my death to disturb

as little as possible.

He led me into a night-time Japan
that was stranger still.

More troubling, too.

l never knew what he thought.

He never commented.

He just showed me.

l loved it.

-Do you want to go home?

Simply water them a bit. These,

once a week, not too much.

That one's very fragile. Be careful.

You can remove dead leaves
if you see any. Okay?

lt's easy, there's almost nothing to do.

-Yes, l understand.

-Make yourself at home.

-Don't forget my plants.

-l won't.



the Quebecer, right.

She's in Montreal for a month.

l'm looking after her place.

l can finally give lessons at home.

How's the apartment?

Not bad.

You'll see at Monday's class.

Monday far. Can l come tonight?


l'll bring supper.

Are you moving in?

No, it's to cook.


Do you like Swiss fondue?

Swiss fondue?

This way?

This process imitates perfectly
cheese strings, right?

Absolutely. lt's a tour de force.

Great, for plastic cheese.


Tell me something, Rinri.

You're using "tu"?

Over a fondue like this, yes.

l'm sorry.

Stop apologizing all the time.




What are you doing? lt's burning hot!

l'm playing.

Take it off. lt sticks!

Yes, that's what's fun.

Look, it's fun. Beautiful.


lt really is plastic cheese.




Belgian custom requires the man
to leave before dawn.

The sun rose long ago.

l'm sorry.

Does Belgian custom allow us
to see each other again?

Yes, it does.


After my Japanese class.

"l've dreamed of it so long"

"A Japanese man has come along"

"l'm 20, and so is he.
Oh, oh! His name's Rinri"

"When in Tokyo l arrived"

"l was a caterpillar, but l did decide"

"l'd be a butterfly in the skies above.
lt's Japan that l love"

"All else is a drag, l love the Japanese flag"

"l love Japan, the sushi, the tatami"

"l love Japan. Spare me your scorn,"

"it's here l was born"

The next weeks
were spent between Japanese class

and my Japanese lover.

"My Japanese lover."

ln fact, there's no French word
for what l felt for Rinri.

The Japanese word "koi" came closest.

"Koi" can be translated
as both "carp" and "liking".

l totally dislike carp,
but l had a liking for Rinri.

His company was to my liking.

l was always happy with him,
but also without him.

Rinri's progress in French was astounding,

though the actual lessons had stopped.

But he took me ever further afield
to show me even more Japan things.

Where to?

You'll see.

What is it?

You'll see.

What are we waiting for?

You'll see.

ls it a drop-off?

A shakedown?

ls it for your dad?

Look, there's one!

What is it?

A dekotora.

-A deco-what?

You don't often get to see them.

There's another!

They're awesome!


Now you!

You're so handsome.

Japanese women are prettier.

That's not true.

l'm glad you have bad taste.

l'm sorry.

Stop apologizing.

Tell me about Japanese girls.


l'm interested.

Japanese girls always worry if they're pretty.

Western girls too.

Why do you say that?

Because it's true.

ln their defense,

it can't be easy to be a woman in Japan.

lt's hard to be a man in Japan too.

You know nothing of Japan.

Rinri, what's wrong?

Amélie, how are my plants?

Your plants?


l'm glad. How's life in Tokyo?

Fine. l...

You're OK? Getting used to Japanese customs?

l don't always understand it all.

Amélie! Did you really think you ever will?

Yeah, you're right.

Do you plan to stay in Japan?

l'm not sure, maybe.

Something you should know.

Japanese men, Western women is a no-go.


ls that a law of nature?

Stop it. lt's my experience.

The other way, fine.

You see lots of gaijin with Japanese women.

But for guys here, we're too independent.

l think we frighten them.

Know what l mean?

Thanks for the tip.

You're welcome.


Leaving the bar, l lost Rinri

in the Shinjuku throng.

l don't know why, l suddenly felt unhappy.



l wasn't going to prove Yasmine right.

Things weren't working. Not one bit.

Well, things weren't that bad.


l love you.

Keep going, it's beautiful.


Sure you're not a yakuza?

l don't care, really.

But are you sure?

l'm certain you have a tattoo.

l don't have a tattoo.

Out of arms' way.

lt's an untranslatable pun.

l'm part of a secret society.

What kind of society?

A secret one.

-A sect?

l'll tell you about it one day, but not now.

Why not now?


it's a secret.

Amazing Rinri!

Unfortunately, Christine came back.

She even wanted her apartment back,

the nerve!

-Hello, Amélie.
-Hello, Rinri.

How is your state of health?

Excellent, and yours?

Excellent. ln that case,
would you like to see me?

My parents are away.

-Alright, why not?
-l need more French lessons.

Come on!

Don't move!

Don't move.

You're beautiful, so beautiful.

You never take pictures.

You're not very Japanese.

l'm a samurai.

Samurai never take pictures.

A samurai? Didn't you want to become a Templar?

l have to go out. l'll be back.

l was joking!



You scared me.

She scares me.

That's Yamamba, the witch.
When you die, she'll come for you.

You were gone for hours.

l bought tofu.

Who's watching us?

No one. lt doesn't work.

l want to go to the mountains.

Perfect, good idea. Me too.


l want to go alone. l need to.

Where will you go?

l don't know.

To You'll see in the mountains.

Don't forget to call me when you get back.

l felt confused about Rinri
and his weird family.

l'd even forgotten why l'd come to Japan.

l was in a rut.

At such times, l need to walk.


Besides, l was dying to see
the Japanese mountains in the snow.

90 minutes from Tokyo was a path
that promised grand, inspiring views.

Back then,

l loved mountains almost
as much as l loved Japan.

l mean, Japanese mountains represented
a sort of pinnacle for me.

Come to think of it,

they still do.

ls anybody here?

That night, l died.

l died of the cold.

l'm convinced it was the splendor of Mt Fuji
that brought me back to life.

Just in time.

Yamamba was left empty-handed.

She didn't catch me.

Guided by Mt Fuji, l found a village.

l was exhausted,

but at the same time ecstatic.

Something had changed in me.

l'd been lost in Japan.

Mt Fuji had found me again.

lt taught me a lesson.

Taught me that you can escape death.

That is, a rigid image you have of yourself.

l was 20 years old.

l had yet to find what l was searching for.

And that's why l loved life.

That day l learned that to love,
l had to be free.

That day l learned that birth
means both pain and joy.

That day l learned that
l had to become all the people l was,

all the people l hadn't yet met.

l learned that day l was as large as life.

lf you die, go.

lf you suffer, move.

Movement is the only rule.

The only dishonor

is not being free.

Know what happened to me?

l got lost.

For lunch, tempura?

Yeah, sure.

After, we'll go to my house.


My parents want to see you.


l don't know.

Do you agree?


That one is...


Beautiful, beautiful.

lt's for you, present.

No, it's not necessary. lt's too much.

Really, it's...

Thank you...Beautiful.

-Yes, Rinri.

My parents are going to Osaka.

l was thinking, l'd like to have
a dinner here with all my friends.

A 1 00% Japanese dinner.

Good idea, why not?

-Yes, tomorrow.

l'll come after my class.


-You forgot a place for you.
-No, no.


we drink beer.

You all speak French?


You're studying French together?

We're in the society.

-The society?

l didn't know Japanese love beer.

When you drink, it's always beer.


Did the Japanese always drink as much beer?

l mean, have you been drinking beer long?

-l don't know.
-That's right.

That's right, l see.

Belgians like beer too.

There are many Belgian beers.

We must have, like, 1 00 breweries.

And if you include craft breweries
with limited production,

there must be over
1 ,000 brands of Belgian beer.

Yes, 1 ,000.

That's a lot!

Yes, that's a lot.

There are blond beers

with a smoother taste.

They're similar to Japanese beer.

Cafés in Brussels serve lambic beers on tap.

There's Gueuze, Kriek, with macerated cherries,

strawberry beer, with strawberries, and Faro.

Gueuze ages for several years
in oak casks, like wine.

For Faro, sugar or caramel
is added to restart fermentation.

Now wine-beer...


What's going on?

-Where was l?
-The wine-beer.

Rodenbach Brewery created
wine-beer a century ago.

lt's made with roasted wort.

Early on, the Japanese realized that
talk is the bane of dining.

For a time, the task of speaking
was relegated to geishas.

Today, we call them
professional conversationalists.

But really, they're still geishas.

Geisha is a real profession.

l trained on the job.

The De Koninck, also known as Bolleke,

due to the glasses it's served in,

is popular in Antwerp.

What else?

The temperature?

Beers must be served
at the right temperature, 8-1 5°C.

Only Orval beer should be
served at room temperature.

Great atmosphere!

And l mustn't forget Kasteel Donker,

a unique beer refermented in the bottle.

lts nose has aromas of barley,

while on the tongue it has notes of

roasted malt, banana and licorice.

You can find all these beers
in good supermarkets.

l'm happy.

My friends like you.

Why'd you abandon me?

So you could meet them.

-There were only boys.
-Don't you like boys?

And what's with this society?

My secret society.

The French Fanatics.

The French Fanatics?

Yes. We love France.

The French language.

We want to speak proper French.

Or Belgian.

My parents return Monday. lf you want,

l'll lock us in and won't open until Monday.

Amazing Rinri.


Listen to the rain.

lsn't it ravishing?

The rain's stopped.


lt's too bad.

We must get ready.

My parents will be back soon.

Honorable Amélie,

you are courageous, are you not?



And discreet. We can trust you, can we not?

Of course.

Trust is important in a family.

ln Japan, young women wear stockings
even when it's hot.

l'll drive honorable Amélie.

So be it.

What did your father mean?



Are you kidding me?


Yes, l see.

You're right, it's tricky.

Above all, now l have to
give him a gift, but what?

No, don't bother.

lf you do, he'll give you something back.

-lt'll never end.

That's how it works here.

Are things OK with Rinri?

We're off to Sado lsland.

Really? lt's magnificent, you'll love it.



You seem a bit lost.

No, no. l'm good. Very good, in fact.

Are you sure?

l have to tell Rinri it's over.

l can't...l don't want to...l...

l don't know.

Talk to him.

l can't.

That night we went to the movies,

to a yakuza film, of course.

By chance, we ran into Yasmine,
who had found her Japanese man.

They planned to marry.

-He gave me a ring.
-Your nails are amazing.

l'm so happy.

And you two?

Are things alright?

Just fine.

And your Japanese classes?

Done. l'm starting work for Yamimoto.

-You'll stay in Japan?

Let's make an okonomiyaki party.

Fine, good idea.

l'm afraid we have to be going.

Alright, well...

Eiji, let's go!

We'll call, right?


Let's go!

The Japan sea is so virile.

Ever thought of marriage?


Sado lsland.

lt's lovely!

-Let's go for a walk.
-Not now.

l'm tired.

Shall we take onsen?

l adore Japan.

Will you get married one day?


Will you get married one day?

Well, l'm very independent and l...

-l'm not sure.
-Yes, yes.

You're a samurai, like me.

Yes, l'm a samurai.

Don't stay in too long, the water's strong.

No, l'll stay.

OK, as you wish.

lt's not necessary.

No English!

lt's not English, it's Japanese!

Rinri was right.

l'd stayed in the sulfur spring too long.

l was soaked in indecision about him.

lronically, l'd met the only Japanese

who wasn't part of this famous floating world,

this world that suited me so well,

where nothing is black or white,
entirely yes or no,

this world of impermanence.

The Japanese feel more than they express.

Not Rinri, at least not about me.

l had to react. l had to tell Rinri.

Rinri, l have to tell you something.

You don't like Sado lsland?

lt's not that. lt's...

Wait. Eat this. lt's delicious.

l couldn't speak.

A little Japanese god lurking
in the octopus stopped me.

Too bad.

lt's all good.

l feel like l'm in a Japanese film.

Amélie, get down.

Gentlemen, some tea?

Persimmons! l love them.

What are you doing? No, we can't.

We can't. We can't.

-Why not?

ln Japan, we can't!


"Mu." That's the kanji for "void."


l have to go. l'll come back.



Did the mafia call you?



Yeah, nothing.

Here, for you.

l went back.

-Did you...?
-No, l bought them.

From whom?

lt was hard to find.

You're the nicest boy in the world.

Can you eat a persimmon for me?

Yes, l can eat one for you.

lt's so good!

At one point l saw my reflection.

l watched myself.

A ring, but why?

Why now?


will you marry me?

You don't want to.

-You don't want to.


Before marriage, there's the engagement.

-Yes. Engagement, marriage.

There's an order to follow.

How long does the engagement last?

lt depends.

l accept your...engagement ring!

Thank you. Fine.

Thank you to the man who
invented engagements. A true genius.


lt might have been a woman.

The engagement.

l'm your fiancée.

My fiancée.

Christine! How are you?

l'm working for Yamimoto.

Remember, l told you.

Since January.

A year. lt's a one-year contract.

lt's great.

No, awful. The most depressing time of my life.

And you? How are you?



Sure. Let's get together. We'll call.

Marry me!

lt would be easier for you.

We're already engaged. l'm your fiancée.

When's the engagement end?

l told you, it varies.

-l'll make more tea.

Don't be so nice.

-Just tea...
-No. Stop.

Go back to bed.

My coworkers are unfriendly.

Being a Japanese woman is hard.

Yes, being a Japanese woman is hard.

What about Rinri?

l'm scared.

Scared? Scared of what?

Scared he sees me as France

and l see him as Japan.

Amélie? Amélie!

What time is it?

You fell asleep.

l know, l was dreaming.

Stop working for Yamimoto.

No, l have a contract.

lt's not for you. You know that.

You should write.

So when?

When what?

Our wedding? When's the date?

We have to decide. l told my parents.

You did?


What did they say?

My father is glad.

My mother...

it's harder.

-You see!

Maybe she's right.


You know l have to finish my contract.

And after, l can't think about it now.

You're more Japanese than a Japanese.

l'm a samurai.

Did you ever climb Mt Fuji?

Mt Fuji?


You're not a real Japanese.

A real Japanese has to climb Mt Fuji.

You're right.

At least that's what we Japanese say.

Let's climb Mt Fuji.

This weekend?


Very good.

And after...



Go home tonight.

l'm exhausted.


You're such a good man.

ls that a question?


You're a good woman, too.

Not really.

l hear it's a pretty easy climb.

l know.

Shoes would have been enough.




Did you call home?


They're worried.

They want me to come back.

-l can't leave now. lt sucks!

our embassy is evacuating all expats.

At Yamimoto, how's it going?


A third explosion at Fukushima.

-My God.
-You can't stay.

Even in Tokyo, it's dangerous.

No, l'm staying.

Amélie, you have to go home.

To Europe.

No way. l'm staying.


Yasmine's flying to Paris with her husband.

So come with me.


-l'm not leaving.
-Then l'll stay.

Stop being childish.

You have to go.

This catastrophe doesn't involve you.

l want you to go home.

My father found you a flight.

You leave tomorrow.

You'll come back later.

Rinri? l love you.

We're still engaged.

A lot.

l love you a lot.


Honorable Amélie?

Neighbors l barely knew came to talk to me.

They begged me to go.

"Thanks for loving our country,

but we Japanese must
face our misfortune alone."

l was beaten.

Bye bye.

l didn't speak to your parents.

They didn't want you to.

l'm reading a book on Ramses ll.

lt's fascinating.

l'd like to become an Egyptian.

Don't come in the airport.

l wanted to tell you.

l'm not a yakuza.

l know.

l never saw Rinri again.

Much later,

l learned he married a French woman,

a general's daughter.

Amazing Rinri.

Our eternal engagement was over.

Too bad.

lt's all good.

lt went way beyond a dumb love story.

As for me...


l'll keep that for another time.

"Everything that one loves becomes fiction"
- Amélie Nothomb