A Japanophile young Belgian woman in Tokyo falls into a whirlwind romance with a Francophile Japanese student, in this charming and tender tale of young love and cultural discovery.
Contemporary World Cinema
Cross Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie with Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, and you have Stefan Liberski's Tokyo Fiancée. Based on Belgian writer Amélie Nothomb's European bestseller, this is a charming and tender tale of cultural discovery and young love.
Amélie (Pauline Etienne) is infatuated with all things Japanese. She was born in Japan, but her parents returned to Belgium when she was a little girl, and she's always dreamed of going back. Now, as a young adult, she finally has her chance. She moves to Tokyo, finds a small suburban apartment, and immerses herself in Japanese culture. Then, working as a French tutor, Amélie meets her match in Rinri (Taichi Inoue). He's a chivalrous and pensive Japanese student obsessed with all things French — which soon includes Amélie, even though she's Belgian. With all the awkwardness and wonder of first love, Amélie and Rinri delight in exploring Tokyo and each other. But even as Amélie reclaims the magic of her childhood, and Rinri seeks out the openness discouraged by his culture, they both question whether there's room for reality in this fantasy.
Writer-director Liberski applies a gentle hand to his source material, using charming narration and precise art direction to achieve the perfect balance of whimsical and sexy.
Sincere performances from Etienne and Inoue, coupled with Hichame Alaouie's wonderfully saturated cinematography, paint an exquisite portrait of cross-cultural desires and divides. Tokyo Fiancée reminds us that the world is full of possibility and that we should all dare to dream, if only for a little while.