Monte Carlo no Ame / The Rain in Monte Carlo is a surprisingly charming one-shot about an unlikely affair between Ren, a middle aged Japanese action star, and a young French method actor named Jean-François.
Ren finds himself depressed on the set of his new movie shoot, despite it being in the exotic, sunny location of Monte Carlo. Ren has been having trouble landing gigs. His agent keeps finding only direct-to-video gangster films for him, and Ren feels like that’s the death knell of his career, a sign that he’s washed-up, a has been.
On a whim, he accepted this new gig. The director is supposed to be brilliant, if eccentric, and it’s in Monte Carlo! They want him enough that they’re providing a translator.
It should be wonderful, except the problem is that the movie was sold to Ren as the story of a Japanese traveller trying to find his long-lost parents. Last minute, the director decided that it would be more poignant if it was a long-lost gay lover.
Ren is normally pretty straight.
Today is the day they’re supposed to be filming the sex scene. Things just aren’t working. The mood is off, and Ren is visibly depressed. The director agrees to a break and also randomly decides they need to wait until it rains, for atmosphere.
Turns out, his co-star Jean-François speaks a little Japanese and so they chat a bit. Ren is very self-deprecating and apologizes for the fact that Jean-François is stuck in this awful role–I mean gay! What a bummer, huh?– with an unattractive old man like himself.
Jean-François is having none of that. He tells Ren that he’s a new enough actor that he would take any role… which actually depresses Ren more because now he feels bad for not being grateful for any opportunity, like he used to be, when he was young and hungry.
Ren decided to take his break by sitting in the sun and drinking too much.
He’s approached by a beautiful young woman, who looks a little familiar….
You guessed it! It’s Jean-François! He claims he’s cross-dressing for another role and convinces Ren to take him out for a date. They end up drinking back at the apartment and Jean-François confesses that actually he’s responsible for the director asking specifically for Ren for this role. Jean-François grew up on a steady diet of Ren’s gangster movies and, actually, that’s why he knows Japanese. He learned watching Ren.
Also, this get up? It was really to try to help Ren see him as his lover.
And, to that end, after a shower and a change, Jean-François attempts to seduce Ren. At first Jean-François is like ‘Can you handle a kiss?’ knowing that Ren will be very much ‘Look, what kind of actor would I be, if I couldn’t?’ But, then they get into it and Ren puts a stop to it by saying, “This is too good to waste without cameras around! Save it until it rains!”
Luckily, it rains the next day…
The film is a success.
As you know, gentle reader, I normally prefer less romance, more smut. But this one was absolutely charming. I LOVED the story and I adored the art. I recommend this one with all the stars and the thumbs-up. It’s a complete one-shot, so it’s not even much of an investment. I spoiled some, but it’s worth reading to the end, since it really is all about the romance and the story of these two men.