. Today will explain to you a 2016 drama film, titled Her Love Boils Bathwater.Spoilers ahead! This article contains spoilers, Take Care!
It all begins in Japan, at Futaba Sachino’s home. She attends to the house chores and then meets her 16-years-old daughter Azumi at the table. Azumi complains about the food, claiming that it tastes strange, but for Futaba, everything is normal. Despite being a teenager, Futaba treats her daughter like a child, making her lunch and combing her hair for school, so that she won’t be late.
Futaba offers Azumi to take her to class on a bicycle, but she refuses, considering it embarrassing. Despite this, her mother’s attitude remains positive, leaving Azumi smiling. Azumi suffers from bullying from her classmates at school, so she decides to take refuge in a handkerchief she gave her mother, as it smells like her and makes her feel safe. Azumi reads the word “Smile” on the wall but doesn’t think anything of it.
Azumi’s praised by her teacher during art class, but as soon as the class is over, her classmates tease her, wasting out her paint colors. When Azumi tries to defend herself, she accidentally stains the skirt of one of them. Back to Futaba, she’s seen working as a saleswoman in a bakery.
However, her shift is interrupted by a call from school about her daughter. She rushes to the nurse room, finding her daughter covered in paint. When asked what happened, the girl says that she did it to herself, an obvious lie that she tries to disguise the best she can, but breaks down when her mom asks her what her favorite color is. When Futaba is asked what her daughter is like at home, she says that they always talk to each other, but when asked about how Azumi’s relationship with her father is like, Futaba comes clean, saying that the father disappeared a year ago.
On their way home and in a new outfit, Futaba tells Azumi not to worry and to go to class tomorrow as usual. Offering a friendly gesture, Azumi agrees for a ride, clinging to her mother tightly. At home, Futaba irons Azumi’s uniform at midnight to let her rest. The next day, Futaba faints while serving a customer at work, forcing her to go to the doctor.
He asks her when she began to feel the symptoms, and she tells him that for the past three months she has felt weakness, dizziness, and loss of taste at times. This worries the doctor a little, who sends her for tests. Unfortunately, the results are not good, as she has stage 4 terminal cancer, starting in her pancreas and spreading throughout her body, something that Futaba’s optimism cannot fight. Futaba cries inconsolably into the night, forcing Azumi to call her.
She asks where she is and that she will starve to death if she doesn’t make food. Futaba tells her not to worry, as she will return home as quickly as possible to prepare her favorite dinner. To find the whereabouts of her ex-husband, Futaba talks to a private investigator called Takimoto, who claims that he may be living with another woman. At the end of the talk, Futaba gives motherly tokens to Takimoto’s daughter.
When Futaba asks about her mother, Takimoto confesses that she died giving birth to their daughter. The little girl seems aware of this, so Futaba lifts her spirit by telling her that her mother must be watching them from heaven. For dinner, mother and daughter eat a spider crab, a gift from a woman named Kimie Sakamaki, who always sends one every year on the same day. Futaba asks Azumi to write Kimie a note because adults are happier to read letters from children than from other adults.
Besides, it’s an apparent family rule. To cheer her up, Futaba gives Azumi a nice set of underwear, as she is growing up and needs clothes her size, much to Azumi’s embarrassment. The following day, Futaba confronts her ex-husband Kazuhiro by visiting him. Still, upon seeing him, she can’t contain her rage and hits him with a ladle.
Unlike what Kazuhiro believes, she’s not there to punish him, but the opposite, confessing her terminal condition. Meanwhile, Azumi encounters and helps a deaf lady, who tries to tell another woman to look for her wallet. When Azumi arrives home, she’s surprised by a table full of food, only to learn that her father is present, but he’s not alone either. Kazuhiro introduces his nine-year-old daughter, Ayuko, Azumi’s sister.
They all share an awkward Shabu-Shabu dinner, only for Azumi to abruptly leave the table. Kazuhiro explains the situation to Azumi, who locks herself in the bathroom. Apparently, Kazuhiro slept with another woman eleven years ago, and only a year ago, he discovered that the woman got pregnant and had given birth to his baby daughter. At the woman’s request, Kazuhiro moved in with the two of them.
Still, the woman disappeared after a month, leaving Kazuhiro alone with Ayuko. Despite everything, Azumi is not interested in forgiving him, leaving him alone in the hallway. During breakfast, Futaba announces that they will be reopening their bathhouse and dividing the work among the four of them. As they clean up, Azumi comes to appreciate her little sister from the distance.
Together, the two new sisters start handing out flyers to promote the reopening of the Sachino Bathhouse. Ayumi tries to approach her sister, but she is timid, only talking about what a bad father Kazuhiro is. While passing by on the street, Kazuhiro’s surprised by a friend who blames him for disappearing for a year, leaving his wife and daughter at their expense.
However, Kazuhiro just smiles and walks away. Futaba seems to have a good time at the bathhouse, but it’s not the same for Ayuko, who remains quiet in a corner. Azumi confronts her father, telling him how hard it was for her mother to take care of them the whole year he was missing. After dinner, Futaba accidentally drops a dish, showing that her illness has worsened.
The doctor tells Kazuhiro how serious and unsalvageable Futaba’s situation is. He thinks that her condition originated from the stress and exhaustion he generated her. Kazuhiro offers her to go to a hospital in Tokyo, but Futaba tells him that it’s not worth it and it is better to move on. At school, the whole class teases Azumi because she lost her uniform, making her wear a P.E.
outfit. Therefore, Azumi refuses to go to class the next day, but her mother tells her to go, even if it is in her P.E. uniform.
The two fight each other, and Futaba tells her to face her classmates and not feel ashamed. Still, Azumi replies that she doesn’t have the courage to do so and feels inferior to others, unlike her mother. Futaba leaves her telling her that they are not so different.
After a while, Kazuhiro comes running to tell Futaba that Azumi did end up going in P.E. uniform, with Futaba now worrying that her daughter didn’t eat. She tells Kazuhiro to bring Azumi a little milk bottle, so Futaba can rest a little easier.
As expected, Azumi’s classmates tease her, with her doing nothing about it. Futaba strikes up a conversation with Ayuko, showing her the love and concern for Azumi. In the middle of class, Azumi remembers her mother’s words, so she decides to stand up for herself, undressing in front of everyone and asking for her uniform back, as there is a suspicion that it was someone from her classroom who took it. Under pressure, she ends up vomiting, so she goes straight to the nurse room, where her uniform is returned to her anonymously.
Azumi returns home with her uniform on, with Futaba waiting for her at the entrance, proud of her. Ayuko watches them from a distance, and in the night, she opens a secret box, but without showing its content. Futaba, tired from her condition after washing the toilets, sees how Ayuko takes money from the register, commenting this to Kazuhiro. While investigating Ayuko’s things, Futaba comes across the secret box, revealing it to be a piggy bank with a note from her mother.
In the letter, Ayuko’s mother explains that she has a good feeling about her father to raise her and that she will pick her up during her next birthday. To everyone’s surprise, Ayuko escapes, but they deduce that her birthday was that very day, so Futaba and Azumi go to the subway station to look for her. Luckily, they find the girl there, and Futaba punishes her for skipping the workday. Ayuko pees herself when she gets up, but is immediately comforted by Futaba, taking her back home.
The family eats at the dinner table.
However, Ayuko feels very sorry, so she promises to try harder at work, even though she still loves her mother. This breaks everyone’s heart, and Futaba comforts her, helped by Azumi herself as they eat Shabu-Shabu. At the bathhouse, Kazuhiro asks Futaba if there’s anything he can do for her, but this triggers Futaba to reproach Kazuhiro for what a bad husband and father he has been. It all ends with Futaba making Kazuhiro promise to take care of everything once she is dead.
While doing the dishes, Futaba tells the girls to go on trip just the three of them, leaving Kazuhiro to take care of business. The idea excites the girls, so they agree. Arriving at a restaurant, they are surprised in the parking lot by a 24-year-old boy named Takumi Mukai, who claims to love red cars, so he wants to go with them. He’s actually a hitchhiker from Hokkaido who makes conversation while they eat.
He tells them an anecdote about how he once accepted a ride from a woman in her fifties, who drove him to a hotel. After she took off their shoes, he decided to run off barefoot, a story that amuses the girls. They tell Takumi that they will eat spider crab while Futaba struggles with his illness in silence on the trip. Futaba is suspicious of Takumi, so while driving and with the girls sleeping, she interrogates Takumi, knowing he is not who he says he is.
The boy explains his turbulent family situation and that he decided to run away to get out of those conflicts. Given her situation, Futaba calls Takumi a ‘loser’ when he tells her that he has plenty of time to waste. Arriving at the next stop, Takumi decides to say goodbye, continuing his aimless journey. Before leaving, Futaba hugs him, telling him that from now on, his goal must go north, giving the boy a new purpose.
The boy cries and hugs her back, asking Futaba if he can visit her once he achieves his goal, and she agrees, saying not to take too long to do so. Takumi says goodbye to the girls and tells them how lucky they are to have such an incredible mother. At night in the hotel, Azumi notices her mother coughing in the bathroom, offering to help her. Futaba refuses, only to later reveal that she was vomiting blood.
The next day, they arrive at a stop near the ocean, where Futaba and the girls appreciate the majesty of Mount Fuji. At a restaurant, they are served by a deaf waitress, from whom they order a spider crab. The girls enjoy their meal, then leave to see Mount Fuji again. Futaba slaps the kind waitress when paying the bill, leaving her confused.
In the car, Futaba confesses to Ayumi that the waitress who served them is Kimie Sakamaki, the same person who sends them the spider crab every year. Azumi’s surprise increases when her mother tells her that Kazuhiro used to be married to Kimie before her, with Futaba being his second wife. When Azumi asks her when that marriage happened, Futaba tells her that it was 15 years ago, something that doesn’t match Azumi’s age. Azumi thinks it’s a lie, but Futaba confesses that she is not her biological mother and that Kimie gave birth to her when she was only 19.
Given her deafness, she couldn’t hear her own baby, so she decided to run away fifteen years ago. To make matters worse, Futaba tells Azumi that she must introduce herself to Kimie as her daughter, but Azumi flatly refuses. Futaba forces Azumi, claiming that she may have the courage to do so. After all, she’s Futaba’s daughter.
These are the last words Futaba says to her before leaving Azumi stranded, promising to pick her up later. In her thoughts, Azumi now understands why she had to write those letters herself every year, as they were for her birth mother. Kimie leaves the restaurant upon seeing Azumi alone. With the help of a board, she asks if she is indeed Azumi.
She answers yes and introduces herself in perfect sign language. When Kimie asks her how she knows how to express herself like that, Azumi tells her that it’s because her mother told her it would come in handy someday. Futaba takes Ayuko to an aquarium, where they look at the jellyfish. She tells the girl that Kimie is younger, prettier, healthier, and can be a better mother than her.
The girl’s only response is to take her by the hand. On their way back, Futaba asks Ayuko to look for her sister, but the girls find Futaba lying on the ground when they return to the car. In a memory previously attributed to Ayuko, it is revealed that Futaba is a good mother after being abandoned as a child by her own. At the hospital, Kazuhiro arrives to see the girls and Kimie.
Time passes, and now Futaba uses a wheelchair for transportation. The girls take Futaba outside, and she asks Azumi how things are going with Kimie. She replies that they write to each other every day and that she will be visiting next week. Futaba tells the girls that she has been dreaming about her mother lately and knows she has passed away, waiting for her in heaven when she dies.
It is shown how the two sisters have formed a closer bond and how Kazuhiro is reluctant to visit Futaba at the hospital, even though he cares for her very much. During one of their visits, Azumi gives Futaba a wooden figurine of a pyramid from Kazuhiro, as Kazuhiro promised her that he would take her to Egypt on their honeymoon. Detective Takimoto revisits Futaba with her little daughter, who gives her a red flower. She hired Takimoto to look for her mother, revealing that she is still alive.
She is 64 years old, and her name is Miyako Mukoda. She lives in Tokyo with her husband and daughter, with Futaba having an impulse to see her. They head to Tokyo, where Futaba wants to show up without her wheelchair so as not to worry her mother. In a tragic twist, Miyako refuses to see her daughter, breaking Futaba’s hope.
Still, she wants to see her, even if only from the distance. From outside the house, Futaba watches her mother play with her daughter and granddaughter happily, ignoring her presence. Upon seeing this scene, Futaba cries, and in an impulse of anger, she picks up an ornament and throws it into the house, breaking the window. Seeing this, the detective decides to flee with Futaba on his back.
The next day arrives, and just before visiting her mother at the hospital, Azumi chooses to leave after hearing her mother’s cries of pain during treatment. On another occasion, while waiting outside her house, Azumi meets Takumi who, after 75 trips, has returned from the north to visit them. At the same time, Kimie arrives for a visit as well. Azumi explains Futaba’s situation to Takumi, and when Ayuko shows up, she is surprised to see their friend back.
Kimie prepares dinner, but just as everyone is sitting down to start, Kazuhiro interrupts, begging everyone on the floor to help him with something. At the hospital, Futaba receives some text messages telling her to look out her balcony. Upon doing so, she finds her friends and family forming a pyramid. Takumi comments to Futaba that he achieved his goal and will now work at the bathhouse for a while.
Takimoto tells him that he will help with the chores just the same, and Kimie bows, which is good enough for Futaba. Finally, Kazuhiro promises her that she can count on him to keep everything under control, so she can rest easy. Taking shelter, Futaba now wishes not to die, filled with happiness and sadness. Two months later, everything seems to be going very well at the Sachino Bathhouse.
Azumi visits her mother, who now remains most of the time in an inactive state, a harrowing scene for the girl to watch.
However, Azumi plucks up the courage to tell her that everything will be fine and not worry. Some time later, the bathhouse is decorated for Futaba’s funeral, where several people go to pay their condolences. Takimoto arrives with his daughter, explaining how death makes you not see loved people anymore. They are all transported to the field, where the burial will take place.
After that, they all share a relaxing hot bath, only to see how the chimney of the bathhouse begins to give off a red smoke, Futaba’s favorite color.