Recently my film viewing tastes have led me in the direction of exploitive Tokyo Shock films, uber gory, mutilation flicks( what’s wrong with a little mutilation?) with lack of plot, character development and budget. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the sub-genre, “Torture Porn” foreign madness. But Takashi Miike’s brings all of these elements into the spotlight and so much more, including his twisted masochistic approach to filmmaking. Miike doesn’t disappoint with his 1999 film “Audition”
“Audition” is about Shigehura Aoyama (Ryo Isibushi) a 50’s something man who recently lost his wife. Now seven years later, widowed and left to raise his son Shigehiko alone ( Tetsu Sawaki). At Dinner Shigehiko suggests to his father that he should remarry, they discuss the apparent bespiritment his father is portraying. Shigehura seriously contemplates the idea and shares it with his friend and business colleague Yoshikawa( Jun Kunimura). Yoshikawa devises an idea how they can set up Shigehura with a new wife. Being that they are in the movie industry, Yoshikawa has a script for a film and wants to cast an audition, unbeknownst to the actresses that they are actually auditioning for Shigehura’s hand in marriage. He narrows the exhaustive list of applicants down to a final thirty, the audition begins. The women come in one by one to showcase their abilities, but Shigehura is intrigued by one woman in particular, the 24 year old Asami Yamazuki( Eihi Shiina, Tokyo Gore Police). After continued suggestion from Yoshikawa to steer clear of Asami,( her references don’t check out) he just has a bad feeling about her. Shigehura insists that he knows what he is doing and continues to pursue her. What he doesn’t know is her past is soiled with abuse and torment transforming her into a deeply disturbed individual( a cute one though)- *Spoiler* If only he knew he would have his foot sawed off with a wire saw by her in about an hour….don’t tell anyone I told you…shhh!
“Audition” is a well paced, brilliantly constructed film based on the novel of the same name by Ryu Murakami. The introduction and development of the characters was just enough to make it through unscathed, only to reveal more later in the film to bring everything into perspective. Eihi Shiina is brilliant playing the disturbed Asami, a soft spoken, obedient women looking only to please, but holds dark secrets about her past. She is so creepy, in one scene she is kneeling in an empty room with nothing but a sack tied closed and a telephone. She kneels with her head contorted in a meditative state waiting for Shigehura to call her or vomiting in a dog bowl for her captive to lap up. She seeps creepiness and at this point in the film it seemed like the tide had turned and I was in for the Miike ride.
“Audition” is not even close to some of Takashi Miike’s other films like “Imprint”, with over the top shock. This is a real film, with real suspense , making it more thriller with a little gore, than Horror. Quite frankly the best Miike film I have ever seen(I’ve seen them all). In just under 2 hours,”Audition” is a bit longer than I prefer for the genre, but with Direction that good, the film flows brilliantly. The Miike style is subtle yet apparent .”Audition is Miike at his best, a masterpiece of filmmaking, with that classic Miike style. It displays scenes of masked predictability, when you find you were not even close, but….”that’s life, isn’t it”?