Emotional Food Connections: Vibrator

The Film Vibrator, directed by Ruichi Hiroki, and based on the novel by Mari Akasaka, is a very thoughtful and emotional film. Taking place in Japan, the story is of a woman named Rei Hayakawa, who suffers from both Bulimia and a drinking problem. She is a woman who struggles to find an emotional balance. She fights and argues with herself, hearing voices in her head and feels uncomfortable in her own skin. To deal with this, she drinks to fill the void she feels, and vomits to keep the voices at ease and allow her to sleep. However, things take a turn when she meets a truck driver names Okabe while at a convenience store, shopping for alcohol. Leaving all her items for purchase behind, she follows him and embarks on a life changing journey with him.

Throughout the entire film it can be noted that food plays an important role. Although large amounts of food are not embedded within the film, it is it’s very absence that must be taken into account. Rei’s failure to eat food helps to signify how self conscience she really is. She does not eat because she does not feel good when she does. When she does eat, however, it is almost always regurgitated. Her rejection of food can also represent her emotional instability and vacancy.

Prior to meeting Okabe, Rei does not keep any long term attachments to anyone or anything, except to alcohol which happens to be what is slowly destroying her and keeps her numb to emotion. This relation between Rei’s emotions and food can be revealed in one of the pivotal scenes of the movie when Rei and Okabe are in the truck and she begins to feel ill. During this scene Rei is talking to other truckers on the CB, but suddenly she does not know whether she is really talking to them or if she is hearing the voices in her head. She begins to panic and then feels the urge to vomit. However, when she tries to vomit, she can’t. Earlier in the film she had eaten with Okabe, but she did not vomit like she usually does, and this could possibly be because she has built a strong attachment to Okabe. Being with him made her content so much that she did not feel the need to vomit. When she begins to feel ill, it is almost as if she can not handle the emotions that she feels. Her forcing herself to vomit is her way of avoiding handling her emotions. By the end of the scene though, she is able to hurl, but she is not able to unchain herself from her emotions. They are here to stay.

Later in the film, there is yet another pivotal moment, and it again highlights the relationship between Rei and her emotions. The scene takes place right after Rei’s emotional breakdown. They sit down to have a bowl of ramen, and here is where emotional confessions   take place. While eating, Rei is able to tell Okabe that she has feelings for him.

Reciprocating the feeling, Okabe invites her to stay with him. However, Rei decides to return home. Only when eating is Rei able to speak so freely. Her acceptance of food is an analogy with her beginning to understand and welcome the fulfillment of her once vacant sentiments.

Rei’s decision to go back to her old life tells us that after the unexpected journey with Okabe, she is now comfortable with the person that she is. So, she returns back to the convenience store, where she again purchases her alcohol, but this time she does so with confidence. She realizes that the person she is, is someone to be appreciated, and although it is  not as glamorous as others, her life is still worth living.

Through food and its absence as well, Ruichi Hiroki is able to thoroughly expose Rei and her inner sensitivities, allowing her to accept herself and be happy with the life that she has been given.

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