Audition (1999)

 

Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Daisuke Tengan

Will Most Likely Contain Spoilers!!!

As soon as the story began I knew what my mission was going to be: find a motive. Although for a little more than an hour the film was nothing exciting and pretty bland and basic, I knew that sh!t was going to go down soon enough and I needed to know why. Like I said, for a little more than an hour the film was basic. I stayed along for the ride for the payoff in the end though. It starts with a man sitting next to a hospital bed where his wife has just died. Then we see him and a friend decide, seven years later, that he must remarry. In order to do so, they decide that they will hold a fake audition (his friend is in the movie industry). Here he finds a woman that catches his eye. They go on dates and talk extensively, but her references never check out and we are unsure if what we are learning about her is actually true or not. They decide to go away for a weekend together and that is when it starts to get weird.

The film is shot in what looks like a low budget style. The film is not the brightest or sharpest, but it works well enough for what it is. Miike by using good framing gets some good shots. Other than that the tecnical aspects of the film didn’t really stand out to me. They weren’t bad, but just not something I noticed in particular. Eihi Shiina did a good job playing a mysterious and demented Asami. Comedy arises surprisingly during the audition scene. They are interviewing 30 potential candidates, and the way it is edited is wonderful. It is past paced and all we see is some of the funny questions and answered the characters are giving.

They pay off was disturbing. We find out that Asami has been abused as a child and in her adult years, after hurting her hip and not being able to dance ballet anymore, her one true happiness, she seeks out revenge on the male race in particular. She has been lonely and feels that a man should love only her as she will love only them and show them all about her. But in this case, we don’t know what is truth and what is fiction. We see that she has tortured her ballet instructor, Mr. Shimada, and has kept someone wrapped up in a sack in her apartment. This person has mangled body parts and is treated like something less than an animal. It really is disturbing, especially when she begins to torture Mr. Aoyama. I usually don’t get queasy, but I had to turn away more than once. It isn’t so much that it messed with my head though, but rather tested my intestinal fortitude. I passed, so far as I can tell, but it was not an enjoyable experience.

So far as finding the motive and piecing the story together, I don’t know. They used some tricky flashback editing in the end. It made it seem like a dream for Mr. Aoyama sometimes, as he wakes up in the hotel they spent the weekend in, checks his feet and sees that they are both there, and Asami is asleep next to him this time. I’m not sure this part is anything more than a dream really, Aoyama dreaming as he is passed out in pain of what he hopes it is. And the motive? Well it appears that it’s just good old fashioned revenge against men. The bar owner was a woman, but she was supposed killed over a conflict with a man and another woman. The ballet instructor burnt Asami in the upper leg, and the man in the sack? Well who really knows. Asami wasn’t loved enough as a child, being moved around and abused. Not that that is an excuse, but it can certainly make someone mentally unstable and give someone motive.

The film reminded me a lot of Hard Candy really. The plot is slightly different, but the general idea is the same. When I saw that one I was repulsed and dismissed the film as trash for how much it disgusted me, but after letting it settle and thinking on it, I think it did a great job of executing exactly what it was going for, I mean it got that reaction out me, right? So maybe this one will be like that, but for right now, I don’t think that the payoff in the end was enough to outweigh how uninterested I was in the first half of the film.

**1/2 – Average

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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