Oh, Japan. You have given the world many, many things: tentacle hentai, Ringu, Pokemon, sushi and countless bizarre videos on youtube.
But you have also given us the director Takashi Miike.
For those not in the know, Miike is a director of often disturbing films. Apparently Audition is one of the nicer ones, which makes me really worry about what the fuck is going on in his other ones.
In Audition we see a lonely widower hold a fake audition to try and find the perfect woman. He does, except she isn’t as perfect as he had first thought.
For the first 35 minutes we get a nice little rom com and isn’t it nice? A lonely guy has found a nice girl who seems to need comforting. He’ll do that and bring her out her shell, she’ll help him get past the death of his wife and they’ll live happily every after.
Yea, that doesn’t happen. Asami (the girl) gets a character establishing moment of staring at the phone, waiting for our hero to call, while a sack rolls around groaning in the background.
It gets worse from there.
The last 20 minutes are quite easily some of the most uncomfortable minutes I have ever sat through in a film. Not only do we have a scene where the guy from the sack is fed vomit (I had to look away for that) but we also have a scene that’ll make you check you still have 2 feet for quite a while after.
I do not normally like torture in films. I think it’s because in a lot of horror today it’s a cheap gimmick- rather than trying to scare, they try to sicken. They use shocking images that we aren’t affected by because we don’t give a shit about the characters (No, liking to party is not a good enough personality trait!). Audition is not like that in its torture scene. The torture is done so well and so carefully that I, well like it isn’t the right word (because I don’t really), but I preferred it infinitely to the likes of Hostel. Asami’s weapons of choice are so delicate. The acupncture needles, the piano wire, and she goes about it in such a way that you never feel a break in her character. She never stops being sweet and beautiful even while she says “kiri kiri kiri” in a sort of creepy singsong voice.
Audition is also a really interesting social commentary. It’s a kind of deconstruction of what the ideal woman is in Japanese culture. The direction is excellent- the use of colour to indicate Aoyama’s descent into Asami’s creepy world was very well done.
So what can I say? Miike, you might be trying to put us all in therapy, but kudos to you for trying to make sure we’re in therapy for something decent. This film is not nice. You will not enjoy it (if you do then I’m kinda worried) but it is a good film. Definitely reccomended.