"In the beginning, the film seems almost like a Japanese version of a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan lovestory, until it suddenly starts being more like a psychological horror story that comes to a shocking conclusion."
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Daisuke Tengan, Ryu Murakami
Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Miyuki Matsuda, Renji Ishibashi, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura
Running Time: 115 min.
Plot: See reviews below.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: Takashi Miike's Audition scared the hell out of me. Even though I figured out the "twist" early in the film, and I knew exactly where the story was headed, I was still unprepared for a handful of its shocking scenes and revelations. Three-fingered hands, man-dogs, dismembered tongues, razor wire, oral sex and a plethora of other fucked-up details left me wishing I'd saved Audition for the next afternoon. (A BRIGHT afternoon with plenty of sunlight streaming though my windows, birds chirping a happy song and the sounds of... lawnmowers or something in the background. Y'know, for comfort.)
I'd recommend Audition because of the scares alone. While above I may have sounded like a complete pussy, I actually do have a high tolerance for horror and gore. And while Audition isn't one of the most violent movies I've ever seen, it's certainly one of the creepiest and atmospheric.
However, what truly makes Audition a classic of the genre are the performances of Ryu Ishibashi (as Ryo) and Miyaki Matsuda (as Eihi). Both offer nuanced, believable performances. (I say "believable" because it's necessary the audience believe Ryu would fall for Eihi; that he would pursue her despite his rational nature and the many hints that the object of his desires isn't as demure and marriage-worthy as he initially believes. She's plenty fucked-up, y'all.) Because of the recent spate of Hollywood remakes of Asian films, I've gotten into the habit of imagining which American actors would best suit the roles of their Asian counterparts. Ishibashi and Matsuda are so convincing in their parts, that I couldn't think of anyone, from television or film, who could capture the characters quite the way these two do. Brilliant.
ALEXANDER'S RATING: 8.5/10
DRAGON MA'S REVIEW: Seriously, I'm at a loss for words to describe this film, I'd heard about being very slow and that it's better going into it without knowing much about it. I think that works in the film's favour because the first moves very slowly and it takes forever to go anywhere but in a way you get a feel for the characters and in a film like this, that's essential. For the first half, this film moves along like it's a drama with nothing much happening and then Miike slaps you in the face, although, to be fair, he drops hints here and there but nothing to prepare you for what's coming.
For those unfamiliar, Ryo Ishibashi plays Aoyama a producer who, after the death of his wife decides to have an audition to find a replacement. Now that idea doesn't put Aoyama in a very favorable light but he's not totally in love with the idea but and it's his partner who manages to convince him but it still seems very manipulative. I won't say anything more than that. Now, I don't mean to spoil anything, so if you haven't seen it, stop reading, go and watch it, come back and continue reading.
HOLY SHIT, Miike really kicks you in the nuts in the second half, the torture scene in the living room is probably the most gut-wrenching scene I've ever seen, I was literally sweating and I wondered if Miike was going to leave you clutching your nuts or deliver another swift kick.
DRAGON MA'S REVIEW: 9/10
WOODY'S REVIEW: Takashi Miike's cinematic "fuck you" to the audience succeeds brilliantly in shattering audience expectations, and will leave you either in awe or in utter disgust. Or, as it was in my case, both. But that's the point, isn't it?
The plot is simple. Ryo Ishibashi is a middle aged widower with a nice teenage son. Lonely, and with prodding from his son, Ryo tells a producer friend he wants to find a wife. The producer decides that they will hold a fake film audition. Ryo is immediately smitten with the stunning and angelic former dancer Eihi Shiina. After the audition, Ryo and Eihi go on dates. Everything might just work out for the two. But lest we not forget, this is a Takashi Miike film.
The performances, cinematography, direction, all of that is good and dandy. Eihi Shiina is chilling and beautiful. Ryo Ishibashi is a great everyman hero. The cinematography is wonderful. The direction is brilliant.
I loved this movie. It fucked me up. When I let friends borrow it, it fucks them up. It is right up there with "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" and "The Untold Story" in the pantheon of fucked up, unforgettable movies you just can't forget.
There isn't too much I can say without giving it all away. I don't want to be like other reviewers, who have ruined it for so many others. All I can say is, be prepared. This movie will get to you.
Takashi Miike is a madman. Don't believe me? Watch this on a triple bill with "Ichii The Killer" and "Visitor Q".
WOODY'S RATING: 10/10
LEN'S REVIEW: In a perfect world, people would see this film without hearing anything of it beforehand. I can only imagine the emotional impact this movie might have to people who haven't heard of this before going to the cinema. So if you haven't seen this one yet, please stop reading this review now and go watch this film.
Now, on with the actual review (spoilers ahead, but I tried to reveal as little as possible about the twists and turns of the story), this movie is utterly sick. I don't consider myself to be particulary squeamish, but the finale in Audition made me feel somewhat ill. I had heard much of this film, mainly praises on how this movie manages to shock people who aren't prepared for it. So unfortunately, I knew pretty much what to expect. Even if I hadn't heard anything, the back of the DVD case (Universe, Region3) spoiled the ending for me with it's amusing plot synopsis:
"But he just can't imagine that this woman, looking innocent, is a horrible and bloody maniac instead. He has never been that scaring and painful..."
So yeah, I was prepared for the bloodbath in the ending. But what surprised me was the sadistic nature of the violence as it was very unlike anything I had seen in a horror film previously. There's something very disturbing about a scene where the lovely Shiina Eihi happily does some DYI piercing on the main character while slowly humming "Kiri-Kiri-Kiri", inserting needles on his face. And if that wasn't enough, it's followed by a scene of amputation with a steel wire. Service with a smile indeed.
Anyways, enough of the horrible things happening in the film. The main idea of the film is rather simple. A middle aged Japanese film exec wants to get remarried and the perfect girl turns out to be a sadistic psychopath.
Combining a tender romantic tale with Lynchian dream sequences and a dose of sadistic violence in the finale, Audition is kept together by the clever direction of Takeshi Miike. In the beginning, the film seems almost like a Japanese version of a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan lovestory, until it suddenly starts being more like a psychological horror story that comes to a shocking conclusion. I'm not planning on seeing this again anytime soon, but I have to admit that this film is definately worth seeing once. Infact, I would call this film somewhat a must-see, due to this being something that most people haven't seen before.
Oh, and the ending rocks. Very much. Hollywood slashers could learn a thing or two from it.
LEN'S RATING: 8/10