Akiko Ohku has emerged as an auteur who represents vibrant, modern women stuck at a crossroads between independence and commitment, a ripe metaphor for contemporary Japanese society. Adapted from a Risa Wataya novel, like the director’s 2017 Tremble All You Want, Hold Me Back chronicles a protagonist who is gradually becoming more mature and confident, yet is still vulnerable and fretful of all the world has to offer. Played with charming je ne sais quoi by the irrepressible Non, Mitsuko is a 31-year-old single office worker whose humorous inner voice acts as an unpredictable counselor and may be holding her back from the next stage of life. When an eligible young man from work shows interest, their mutually debilitating shyness is their own worst enemy. Told with effervescent appeal and a tongue-in-cheek quirkiness, Hold Me Back is as insightful and telling of contemporary romance as it is a bold proclamation of self-discovery.