Fear and Trembling
Screening: Monday 8 December 2008France/Japan 2003.
Director: Alain Corneau.
Starring: Sylvie Testud, Kaori Tsuji, Taro Suwa.
Certificate: 12A. 103 minutes.
SynopsisThe heroine, whose name is Amelie returns with her parents from Japan to her native belgium. But amelie has fallen in love with Japan and at the age of 20, she returns to take a job with a vast corporation and become a "real japanese".
Now played by Sylvie Testud as a college graduate who speaks perfect japanese, she is hired as a translator and assigned to work under the beautiful fubuki [Kaori Tsuji]. She idolises this woman, so beautiful so flawless, so tall - too tall, probably to ever marry, amelie reflects.
The story of her year at Yumimoto corporation is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Amelie Nothomb. It is the story of a westerner who speaks perfect japanese but in another sense does not understand japanese at all.
"Fear and trembling" directed by Alain Corneau, may be a sardonic view of Japanese corporate culture, but that's not all it is. The movie is also subtly sexual and erotic, despite the fact that every scene takes place in the office and there is not a single overt sexual act or word or gesture or reference. Sexuality in the movie's terms is transferred into the power of one person over another. Amelie begins by adoring fubuki, but eventually realises that the other woman hates her and is jealous of her as a competitor. Fubuki finds her one demeaning task after another and Amelie responds by doing them. By submitting. Amelie is eventually able to win the game by becoming so submissive so much in fear of the taller, more powerful woman, that a kind of erotic release takes place.