Monday, October 18, 2010


Directed by Takashi Miike.
1999. Rated R, 115 minutes.
Ryo Ishibashi
Eihi Shiina
Jun Kunimura
Tetsu Sawaki
Miyuki Matsuda
Renji Ishibashi

Seven years after his wife has died, Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) wants to marry again. When he tells this to his friend Yoshikawa (Kunimura), who happens to be a flimmaker, the two decide to hold a fake movie audition to help him find his very own leading lady. Of course, the woman he falls head over heels for, Asami (Shiina), has some serious issues. Occasionally, a great ending can elevate a movie beyond the sum of it's parts. Such is the case, here. What happens over the last thirty minutes or so has to be seen to be believed, though you'd find yourself brave for stomaching certain portions of it. It's both psychological and gory, making it all sorts of unsettling. And you will come to fear "this wire". On the surface, it's reminiscent of but even more twisted than Misery. Dig deeper and it proves to be more complex, as well. That's because it can strangely be seen as both a feminist and anti-feminist film. On the pro side of that ledger, it might be construed as a warning for all us simplistic, hedonistic guys given to objectifying and/or idealizing women. Conversely, our villain is a female completely dependent on the singularly focused love of men to determine her self-worth. The two sides of this coin create an intriguing horror flick.

However, Audition is not without problems. The first deterrent for many will be how slow the first two-thirds of the film move. Secondly, there seems to be no solid basis for our hero's instantaneous love. To be fair, he actually becomes smitten with her even before meeting her in person, which is fine. The problem is she's undeniably creepy the first time he lays eyes on her and behaves oddly and depressed throughout, doing nothing to sustain his initial infatuation. The effect is we don't get what it is about her that he likes so much. Of course, he may be into withdrawn, fragile emo chicks but we never get that indication. Then, we get to that finale and most of that is forgiven, so there.

In all, it's a solidly creepy movie we think is a bit more reserved than the director's other movies (Takashi Miike is best known for directing what's basically a live-action and ultra-gory anime, Ichi the Killer). Of course, in the end it really isn't...well, maybe a little. Subtitleophobes beware: we're speaking Japanese.

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