Review: Tremble All You Want

Written and directed by Akiko Ôku, Yoshika is 24 years old and works in an office, she doesn’t have a boyfriend in her life but still romanticizes her former junior high school classmate. Starring: Mayu Matsuoka, Kanji Furutachi, Anna Ishibashi, Hairi Katagiri, Takumi Kitamura, Daichi Watanabe and Shuri.

A great choice to describe this film in one word would be chaotic, it’s probably one of the furthest examples from calm that you can find in romantic cinema. It genuinely can’t be still, it is constantly hopping from one moment to the next, and always leaving you to question whether it was real or imagined. One of the aspects which the film truly embraces is the power of imagination in everyday life, and while most adults even at the fairly young age of twenty-four have lost theirs, Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka) certainly has not. It’s a choice which has its advantages and disadvantages, it keeps you guessing but also can become rather messy and confusing. Especially because Tremble All You Want moves surprisingly slowly for its genre and has a fairly lengthy runtime coming in at just under two hours. It has great themes of loneliness and the chances not taken but the drawn out way that it’s presented makes them less effective.

The editing work means that the story is being thrown around incessantly, it never gives itself a chance to take a breather or settle in, which makes it slightly difficult to invest in. Particularly in its use of the past, which doesn’t really have much to add as it’s pretty self-explanatory. There’s just so much energy coming off of this style, akin to encapsulating the manic pixie girl energy into a directorial style, that it’s distracting and feels distracted itself. It’s definitely a choice that feels suited to a younger audience, especially with Yoshika being so inexperienced that her emotional maturity is still stuck in her teenage years. There’s also a fairly terrible and overly loud use of sound frequently throughout, which obnoxiously interrupts the film and overwhelms the scenes it’s used in. It feels slightly like if you tried to bring to life the descriptions out of anime, rather than a natural use of sound.

Mayu Matsuoka as Yoshika captures that manic, chaotic, lonely and quirky energy perfectly, almost exhaustingly so as she’s such a tight bundle of emotions, ready to burst at any second. Matsuoka manages to change her persona for quiet and mousey to quick spurts of enthusiasm and eagerness so easily, it’s very relatable for any introverted person who struggles with social situations. Realistically, she takes so much of the focus that while there is a solid supporting cast, they never really get too much to do, feeling more in service of Yoshika’s story. However, Daichi Watanabe comes closest to breaking through that barrier, with the exception of a few less than healthy choices he makes when trying to start a relationship with Yoshika, he’s sweet and caring.

Tremble All You Want is like watching a film happening inside a teenager’s head, bursting with energy, constantly moving around and filled with a mix of enthusiasm, imagination, insecurity and loneliness. It’s a lot to take in over almost two hours, so it’s one that will likely work for some and not others. It’s led by a great performance from Mayu Matsuoka and it’s a sweet exploration of social anxieties and how being introverted can let opportunities pass you by but it feels unfocused and moves slowly.

Verdict: ✯✯ ½ | 5/10

Available on Blu-ray July 28th on Vinegar Syndrome & August 30th for all retailers

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