Directed by: Takashi Miike
Written by: Ryu Murakami (novel) Daisuke Tengan (screenplay)
Starring:Ryo Ishibashi as Shigeharu Aoyama Eihi Shiina as Asami Yamazaki Tetsu Sawaki as Shigehiko Aoyama
My girlfriend and I agreed that this was the best of the three movies we watched last night. Now, the other two movies were Kung Pow; Enter the Fist and Death to Smoochy, but they could have been much better movies and Audition would still have been the best of the three.
Here’s what I’m recommending if you haven’t seen this film. See it. Stop reading this hackneyed review when I tell you to, don’t read any other reviews, don’t read the back of the box at the video store, just pop it in and watch — unless you’re a Christian or something. Seriously. A first viewing of this film would be more tainted by knowing too much than a first viewing of The Sixth Sense, and I’m going to spill every last bean because otherwise, there isn’t much to talk about. OK, stop reading now.
I said stop reading, cunt.
Now, those of you who’ve seen Audition know it starts off as a pretty traditional romance. The film keeps at pretending to be a romance for perhaps an hour as a lonely, widower and father holds phony auditions for a film as a way to find a mate. We meet his son, his friends and Asami, the woman he chooses. This would have been a good movie if it kept going that way.
The fact that the first part of the film can stand on its own is a big part of what makes the second part of the film so fucking brilliant. We’ve all sat around in bars and said “someone should make a film just like Sleepless in Seattle , but in the end ninjas should come and kill all of the kids in the bookstore.” The problem with pulling such an idea off is that we, the sort of people who have these ideas, would never be able to make the first part of our theoretical films. We wouldn’t feel it. All of our passion and energy would be about the end of the film and we’d fumble the set up. Miike doesn’t.
The second brilliant thing about Audition is how twisted the twist is. The girl that is chosen from the audition turns out to be a killer. Wooo, big deal. She turns out to be a killer who cut off her previous lovers feet and some other body parts and keeps him in a sack. That’s pretty impressive. She turns out to be a killer who cut of her previous lovers feet and some other body parts and keeps him in a sack and feeds him a strict diet of her vomit, which she makes him beg for. Now we are getting somewhere. I’m going to stop the gimmicky repetition and just recount the end of the film where we see Asami slip her new boyfriend one of those drugs that they always use in movies that paralyzes you without desensitizing you to pain. She puts on this sexy black outfit that is kind of an anti-nurses uniform and uses acupuncture needles to torture the guy and cuts off one foot and saws half way through another. The whole scene is genuinely chilling, from the sound of the wire saw cutting through bone to the performance of Eihi Shiina as Asami. The fact that the scene has an erotic element to it makes it even more disturbing, particularly if you’re not used to being horrified and a bit turned on at the same time.
Some would say that the part of the ending depicting Asami’s abusive childhood is a psychobabble copout. I agree with this assessment when it’s applied to other films like One Hour Photo (to a point). But the impressive reveal sequence that mingles Asami’s past with alterations of her victim’s memories, isn’t just a way of saying that her sadism isn’t really her fault. By the time the sequence is over, we see Asami as a creature of pure brutality and pain, no less evil because she was abused. So the abusive childhood makes the film darker and makes us feel worse, rather than giving us an easy answer.
The only disappointment is that Asami is killed and her lover is saved by his son. Yeah, most horror films end with the monster being killed, but this film gets so dark and disturbing that the return to convention just doesn’t feel right. Nonetheless, Audition, along with Frailty which I also happened to see this week, is one of the 20 or so best horror films I’ve ever seen. Good week.
Usually DVD’s of foreign films don’t have many extras, so this is pretty cool. There’s an interview with Miike, which is OK. He also does a commentary, but just over the cool part of the movie, which is kind of nice. Usually people run out of things to say on the commentary track so just spitting out all of the important stuff in 20 minutes or so is probably a better way to go. The most interesting thing might be Miike’s dubious claim that the actress who played Asami really vomited into a bowl and fed it to the actor playing her victim.
- Overall: 9
- Direction: 8
- Acting: 8
- Story: 9
- Re-watchability: 7
Special Ruthless Ratings
- Number of times the movie was paused to do something else: 0
- Number of beers needed to fully enjoy movie: Zero. Be sure to finish eating and drinking before the end.
- Number of times since you’ve seen the movie that you had to stop eating soup because you realized that it looked like Asami’s bowl of vomit: 1