Fear and Trembling, adapted from Amélie Nothomb’s autobiographical novel, is the tale of downtrodden Belgian translator Amélie (Sylvie Testud) who takes a job in the head office of a Tokyo firm. Speaking fluent Japanese and determined to become a “true Japanese woman” in the land where she grew up as a small child, Amélie decides to forge for herself a new life in the East. However, her dream job turns into a living nightmare as Amélie suffers ridicule and bullying at the hands of her sadistic Japanese bosses. It is a tale of someone who speaks perfect Japanese, but in another sense does not understand Japan at all.
Working under the 29-year-old Mori Fubuki, Amélie comes to idolise her new boss, a tall picture of beauty, who is initially very kind to her. However, Amélie’s well-meant attempts to be useful in her new office turn out to be serious social blunders in her adoptive society, prompting her Japanese colleagues to question “how the nice white geisha became a rude Yankee.”