The Tokyo International Film Festival is under way – pandemic or no pandemic! As with last year, Cinetalk is able to attend virtually, even if travel restrictions prevent us from being in Tokyo.

A peculiar story unravels in Nakamura Mayu’s Intimate Stranger. In a post-COVID Tokyo, two strangers become intertwined in each other’s past traumas. Kamio Fūju (who is also in What She Likes…) plays Yuji, a mysterious and broody 20-year old. His middle-aged counterpart (Asuka Kurosawa) is desperately looking for her missing son. In the meantime, Yuji will do.

But Yuji seems to be connected to some sort of scam ring, preying on people who give him money to continue residing in a dreary internet café.

The use (and mis-use) of face masks and social distancing shows characters overstepping personal space. Nakamura fully plays with the idea of intimacy without ever blatantly incorporating sexual activity, Kamio and Kurosawa cross each other’s boundaries in their mundane everyday acts. Catching a glimpse of each other’s vulnerability, it seems like they each know too much while still remaining very distant. Repressed feelings and incestuous undertones link the pair over shared meals and quiet conversations. Without giving too much away, this connection is creepy in a different way than we initially assume. Beware of scammers!


Intimate Stranger – 3:20 PM JST, November 3rd, 2021 (Please note, screening times are in Japan Standard Time)