The Tokyo Film Festival competition section got a much-needed dose of comedy at the fest’s mid-way point with the premiere of Tremble All You Want (勝手にふるえてろ), a romantic comedy by Akiko Ohku.
Based on the 2010 novel by Risa Wataya, the film is about Yoshika, a socially awkward office worker with zero dating experience. However, her life is thrown into emotional turmoil when she finds herself caught between a tactless co-worker with a crush on her and a high school classmate that she’s been carrying a torch for since their school days.
The film marks the first starring role for 22-year-old Mayu Matsuoka, a young actress who’s been doing supporting roles in film and television since 2006 at the age of 11. Her previous films include Sion Sono’s Love Exposure (愛のむきだし), The Kirishima Thing (桐島、部活やめるってよ), Little Forest (リトル・フォレスト), and the Chihayafuru (ちはやふる) trilogy. Appearing in every scene of the film, Matsuoka commands the film with the confidence of a veteran actress. Yoshika provides a showcase that any actor would jump at.
At the press conference held after the film’s press screening on Monday, Ohku said that she had to convince the producer to let Matsuoka take the lead role. The two worked together in 2014 on the anthology film Hokago Lost (放課後ロスト).
“When I wrote the screenplay, I was unleashing what I left behind from my 20s,” said Ohku. Even though the film is packaged as a light romantic comedy, it tackles with introverted urbanites who live out their lives in isolation, with most communication happening on social media.
For Matsuoka, the experience was sometimes an intimidating one.
“Normally when I perform, I have partners to act with or things to react to. However, Yoshika is often alone in her room in this film, and I have to go through all the emotions by myself,” Matsuoka said, “I was a child actor, so it’s a dream come true to get my first starring role. During the shoot, I was closed up in a shell, but looking back, it was actually quite a luxury.”
So far, commercial prospects seem uncertain for the film, which will be opening a week after Star Wars: The Last Jedi on December 23rd. Without backing from one of the three majors (Toho, Toei, Shochiku), the film will be entirely reliant on positive word-of-mouth to hold on through the new years holiday.
Regardless of the film’s box office results, Tremble All You Want will make you remember Mayu Matsuoka. 10 years may seem like an eternity in show business already, but the actress still has a bright future ahead.