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Fear and Trembling

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Tom’s Recommended Film of the Week

Fear and Trembling or Stupeur Et Tremblements

Sometimes the most interesting moments in life are created by human dynamics. How we interact is an amazing thing, and the differences in our approach to those around us is vast. Most all situational comedy and drama is based either on physical predicaments or mental and verbal ironies. We enjoy watching others go through uncomfortable situations mainly because we ourselves have likely experienced similar entanglements.


Fear and Trembling
takes some of these basic principles and couples them with cultural differences to form a most uncomfortable, yet oddly amusing film. Its pinpoint comedy is formed through the clash of Japanese and Western European cultures, combined with inter-office dynamics common to all societies. Think about a combination of The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Gung Ho, and you’ll be in the right neighborhood.

Everyone if the cast of Fear and Trembling does a great job of conveying the excessive natures expressed in the story. Sylvie Testud is brilliant as the central character and her office mates and eventual rulers are played to the hilt by Kaori Tsuji, Taro Suwa, Bison Katayama as the middle management dicatator, Yasunari Kondo, Sokyu Fujita and Gen Shimaoka. Alain Corneau directed this offbeat film and found the humor in all the little places it could possibly pop up.

Be forewarned that there are some uncomfortable situations depicted in this film. Also, there is one scene containing full frontal nudity, though it will not be anything you expect and is decidedly non-sensual. Keep in mind that Fear and Trembling is based on a true story and told through the eyes of a Belgian woman, Amelie Nothomb, who, for personal reasons, wanted to become more Japanese. Mixed up? So is she, but if you like dark comedy, you may enjoy this little gem.

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