Tremble All You Want, Directed by Akiko Oku, Japan
Overview: This ironic romantic comedy follows 24-year-old Yoshika’s single-minded attempts to start a relationship with her high school crush Ichi while she wearily tolerates the needy advances of her own piteous admirer Ni.
Director: Akiko Oku
Writers: Risa Wataya (based on the novel by), Akiko Oku (screenplay)
Starring: Mayu Matsuoka, Kanji Furutachi, Anna Ishibashi
Review: Tremble All You Want
The irony that the plot setup provides is not perfect, and this may be the first strike against the film. Some very clever social commentary could be made if Yoshika’s crush on Ichi was equal to Ni’s crush on Yoshika. But, in fact, they are worlds apart. Yoshika’s crush on Ichi is sad but harmless — she makes no real attempt to pursue him, and he does not even know he exists. Ni, on the other hand, goes out of his way to be with Yoshika and is obnoxious at every turn. This is not some John Hughes tale where the “shy nerd” eventually gets the girl. But maybe it should be.
Deborah Young of the Hollywood Reporter says the director “has a feeling for the immature, neurotic female mind and she hits the nail on the head many times.” Young praises the performance of our lead actress (Mayu Matsuoka) but otherwise is not fully on board. Her criticisms are valid and I must echo them: the film is a bit long at two hours, and there is nothing really new here that would make it worth watching outside its home country.
The big question is: why was this film chosen to play at Fantasia? The festival’s love of Japanese culture is no secret, but a Japanese “chick lit” romantic comedy? That’s a bit outside the box for viewers looking for the latest genre film. TREMBLE has no real fantasy elements beyond some rather tame daydreams. Maybe this film is for you, but not for me.