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Audition

Miike Takashi

Ôdishon

Art-movie deliberation meets schlock-horror excess and leaves a nasty stain on the carpet in this alternately composed and unhinged offering from director Miike Takashi, currently the prolific bad-boy of Japanese celluloid. The sober opening gives little indication of the mayhem to come, as we first meet Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), proprietor of a Tokyo video production company, grieving for the loss of his wife. Seven years later and even his son is suggesting it’s time to remarry, while a crafty colleague comes up with a scheme which will allow him to assess the relative merits of various candidates by holding a mock audition for a feature film which neither of them has any intention of actually making. It’s here that Aoyama meets Asami, a demure twenty-something ex-dancer, whose melancholy cast soon has him infatuated. A tentative courtship ensues, during which time Aoyama ignores all indications that his intended may not be all she seems. . .
It’s hardly fair on the film to give away much more than that, though even the most genre-savvy viewers may find themselves taken aback by the extended relish of Takashi’s finale, which so outraged one audience member at the Rotterdam Film Festival that she harangued the director with shouts of ‘You’re evil!’. Others, however, have experienced a certain feminist frisson in the escalating mayhem, which is possible to read as the revenge of repressed Japanese womanhood in no uncertain terms, or even as the male protagonist’s masochistic guilt fantasy. Either way, the film’s shift from carefully modulated domestic drama to white-knuckle nightmare marks a film-maker operating with wicked confidence. The cult starts here, but don’t say you haven’t been warned! Trevor Johnston.
Japan/Korea, 1999.
English subtitles.
Colour.
Dolby digital stereo.
115 mins.

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