Fear And Trembling Review

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A Japanese-born Belgian returns to Tokyo to join the corporate ladder, but soon falls foul of the local work culture which considers initiative in bad taste.


Sylvie Testud should be a major arthouse star, and shows exactly why in Alain Corneau's delicious adaptation of Amélie Nothomb's autobiographical novel. She excels as the Japanese-born Belgian who returns to Tokyo as a graduate to secure her place on the corporate ladder.

However, she's unaware that initiative is deemed the height of bad manners in the hierarchical Oriental culture and endures a series of humiliating demotions.

Played out to the strains of Bach's Goldberg Variations, Testud's feud with statuesque superior Kaori Tsuji is as excruciating as it's amusing. But beneath the civilised satire, Corneau raises the pertinent point as to how we can hope to come to terms with our enemies when we haven't got a clue how to communicate with our friends.

A delicately played culture-clash drama, this boasts excellent performances and subtle social commentary.