November 15, 2009

Audition (1999)

How to describe what viewers are getting themselves into when they start watching Miike Takashi's Audition? The film is not particularly scary, nor is it gory in comparison to Miike's other works, yet it is a uniquely unsettling experience that will linger on in the memory of anyone who completes it in one sitting. People often talk about the ending and how sick and shocking it is but again, even those often quoted "last 15 minutes" aren't that horrible or strong on their own to warrant the attention the film has been getting.

If you ask me, the human drama contained in the voyage of the main character - the kind-but-lonely Shigeharu Aoyama - to win the heart of the "audition girl" is much more important. It is here that Miike scores the big points: he develops Shigeharu and the mysterious Asami step by step, layer by layer, while pitching in poignant comments about what love and loneliness are in the modern Japanese society (oh, and can you spot the actions that reek of male chauvinism?). It is only when a moving burlap bag enters the picture that one realizes how royally fucked things can get.

However, the problem doesn't lie in the body bag, the nightmare, nor the torture scene - these are all decoys to underline the hidden danger and the epic amounts of pain it can lead to. No, the real problem lies in the bed that Shigeharu and Asami share, which is all about blinding pretense born out of loneliness. I particularly love the color pallete cue at the beginning of the third act when things grow particularly nasty on the emotional front for Shigeharu.

Finally, the torture scene was actually an afterthought that popped up in the middle of the film's production. According to Miike himself, he was originally going to end the film just as Asami was preparing to do her worst to Shihegaru, but was convinced to go all the way by his associates. I wonder what the film would have looked like if the script wasn't changed. Could it have been more shocking? After all, while acupuncture and clear amputation are nasty and unexpected, I'm sure the average viewer can imagine even worse ways to end one's life.

Check out below what some well-known faces have to say about Audition. Here, kiri kiri kiri!

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