Stupeur et tremblements (2004)



Critic Consensus: This tale of culture clash is by turns downbeat and hilarious.

Movie Info

Originaire de Belgique, Amélie vient d'obtenir un poste au Japon dans une grande entreprise. Le choc culturel sera immense et les initiatives de la jeune femme seront constamment réprimées par ses supérieurs.
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Sylvie Testud
as Amelie
Kaori Tsuji
as Fubuki
Taro Suwa
as Monsieur Saito
Bison Katayama
as Monsieur Omochi
Yasunari Kondo
as Monsieur Tenshi
Sokyu Fujita
as Monsieur Haneda
Gen Shimaoka
as Mr. Unaji
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Stupeur et tremblements

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (18)

The best office comedy since Office Space.

Full Review… | August 5, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

One of the screen's most cuttingly funny looks at office life.

June 24, 2005
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

... 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.

Full Review… | June 24, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The film is more ambiguous about its characters' desire than it needs to be.

Full Review… | May 20, 2005
Boston Globe
Top Critic

The delicacy of the film comes from the fine performances, particularly Kaori Tsuji as Fubuki.

April 1, 2005
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

Astutely directed by Alain Corneau.

March 18, 2005
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Stupeur et tremblements

(February 2013) I would be biased since I am Japanese. Definitely capturing some aspects of Japanese companies which look irrational or unreasonable for non-Japanese, but the movie is taking it way too far the story looks a bit stupid I think.

makoto nakajima
makoto nakajima

I adored this movie. I'm actually at my desk job right now, and all I can think about is this film. Wonderful performance by Sylvie Testud and Kaori Tsuji.

Katie Hepfinger
Katie Hepfinger

The mundanity of office labor is a subject that's always rife for comedy. There's something about the cordiality of cubicle routine that just works well for subversive little flicks like [i]Office Space, Clockwatchers[/i] and [i]Haiku Tunnel[/i], three films which wring often-painful laughs from the pleasant personas that people present to their co-workers and the darkness just underneath the surface. At first, [i]Fear and Trembling[/i] seems not only to be this type of film but the ultimate version of this type of film as Beligan translater Amelie (Sylvie Testud) gets a job working at an office in Japan. Not only are the social office mores presented with a smirking feel of how silly they are, but they're Japanese social office mores, probably the trickiest and most cryptic of mores for a neophyte to grasp. Amelie's first day begins with her bypassing the secretary to let her boss know she's arrived, and it's downhill from there, as virtually everything she does seems to end up getting her called into a superior's office for a minor infraction of Japanese coda. Amelie at first feels comfort in her beautiful female boss Fubuki, as Fubuki's superiors progressively demand more and more from Amelie in an effort simply to keep her busy with meaningless tasks, but soon Amelie errs and Fubuki ends up on her case as well, giving her demeaning and complicated tasks just to humiliate her. All of this is done through the eyes of Amelie herself, a perky, cheery girl who never quite seems to be so put-upon that the movie becomes depressing. Instead, it plays like a dark comedy of Japanese manners, as our leading lady jumps through hoops just to follow orders in a society that won't fire her with a determination that she won't quit. Even when she's reduced to scrubbing toilets Amelie has an aire of dignity about her, moreso, in fact, than the superiors who blindly follow moral code believe they have. In the finale, though, the office dark comedy that [i]Fear and Trembling [/i]most resembles is[i] Secretary[/i], a film more about power plays in relationships than a mockery of forced manners in workplace settings. Amelie finally learns that the co-existance she has with her superiors is about power rather than manners, and her final play at the job eludes to a relationship that's more S&M than S&L. Alain Corneau, director of the overrated [i]All the Mornings of the World,[/i] envelopes the film in a steady, slightly-smirking tone that manages to turn the tables on the audience just when they think they know who they're supposed to be laughing at. Some of the characters border on stereotype, like a constantly-eating executive the size of a sumo wrestler, and Amelie's occasional meanderings into daydream do nothing to advance things, but these are more minor distractions than real complaints. [i]Fear and Trembling[/i] is an entertaining comedy of manners that's certainly worth seeing for anyone who's ever spent time under the glow of a flickering florescent lightbulb.

Paul Freitag
Paul Freitag

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