Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Movie Review: Audition (2000)

AUDITION - Takashi Miike thriller - Movie Poster

Written by Daisuke Tengan
Directed by Takashi Miike

Ryo Ishibashi .... Shigeharu Aoyama
Eihi Shiina .... Asami Yamazaki
Tetsu Sawaki .... Shigehiko Aoyama
Jun Kunimura .... Yasuhisa Yoshikawa

Seven years after his wife passes away, Shigeharu takes his son's advice and gets back into the dating game. Discussing his ideal woman with his friend Yasuhisa, they come up with an idea to find Shigeharu a wife: Auditions.

The two of them set up fake auditions for a movie that is never going to be made. Shigeharu is in charge of going over the applicants, and from the moment he lays eyes on Asami's picture, we know just as well as he does who he's going to choose. Regardless, the show must go on and one by one the girls come before the camera in what reminds us of the first couple episodes of American Idol (minus Simon's snide comments, of course.)

AUDITION - Takashi Miike thriller - the auditions

A few days pass, and Shigeharu asks Asami out for dinner. He tells her that she didn't get the part, but she doesn't seem to care. She has fallen for Shigeharu, it seems, and in a whirlwind romance, they leave town together for the weekend. While in their hotel room, Shigeharu attempts to talk her into going out to a restaurant on the pier, telling her "they serve nice cheesecake," apparently oblivious to the fact that his own little cheesecake is in the mood for love. He awakens late that night and finds that Asami has left the hotel. Panicked, he returns home to find her but she is nowhere to be found.

He quickly grows obsessed with hunting the girl down, and his investigation into her disappearance leads him to an increasingly surrealistic and Lynchian side of the human psyche. He discovers that everywhere Asami had spent an ample amount of time was later devastated by death. Soon, things get so weird that even we lose track of reality for a while. And just when we think we've got our bearings, the carpet is pulled out from beneath our feet and we're on the floor with Shigeharu, looking up into the eyes of Asami.

I won't ruin the ending for you here, but when you first see Asami in her S&M doctor's outfit, you won't know whether to be aroused or frightened. But that will all clear up in time.
AUDITION - Takashi Miike thriller - Sexy Asami
I'm going to be honest with you here. Upon my initial viewing, I was bored witless for the first part of this film. There was very little of interest going on and I was beginning to think that this was going nowhere. But when all is said and done, it becomes obvious that this was director Takashi Miike's intention: real life is boring, nightmares are exciting, and this is what happens when the nightmare invades real life. I can tell you exactly when the nightmare begins to seep in, too.

At the appearance of the canvas bag. You'll have to watch the movie if you want to know what that means.

Still, a half hour of build-up would have been sufficient, and some may think that the entire film seemed to suffer because of it, but after repeated viewings, I can no longer share that philosophy. No matter what you think, though, you simply can not beat the final reel of the film. It makes the entire wait worthwhile.

If you're patient, and are capable of deciphering storylines from more nonlinear means (dreams, colors, mood, fragments of conversation, etc.), give this a whirl.

115 minutes
Japanese (with English subtitles)

Kiri Kiri, bitches!


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