Audition (1999)

Audition (1999) — Takashi Miike is a man who seems to have some issues.  I bought Audition years ago when I worked at Suncoast yet have never got around to watching it until now.  I have seen purchased and watched two other Miike films: Ichi the Killer and Sukiyaki Western Django, both of which I enjoyed as extremely demented fun.  Audition is a flick of a different color though.  [From here on out, the review gets sort of spoiler-ish, but if you know about this movie you probably already know most of what I’m going to say].  It is the film that put Takashi Miike on the vanguard of so-called “extreme cinema.”  It also occasionally goes by the nickname “torture porn” (which I have always found to be insipid terminology).  The story is about a lonely widower who works in the film industry whose friend persuades him to hold an audition to find himself a new potential wife.  The protagonist Aoyama (played by Ryo Ishibashi) is built up as a super nice guy and not nearly as sleazy as the wife-audition summary makes him sound.  He meets Asami (Eihi Shiina) and begins to court her.  Most of the film moves slowly.  Very slowly.  Only about at the halfway mark does the specter of something seriously wrong start to creep in.  It slowly [slowly being the operative word here] gets worse and worse until in the last twenty minutes all hell breaks loose.  The finale is cringe-inducing on par with the film’s reputation and is definitely not for the queasy or faint of heart.  I myself seek out the sick and twisted which is why I bought this movie in the first place.  So I was somewhat surprised by my rather tepid reaction.  The movie is essentially a slow build to a crazy what-the-fuck climax and I get that, but I just couldn’t get into the pacing of the movie.  The movie does what it sets out to do and while never out-and-out scary it did create within me a profound sense of unease.  It’s the type of movie I respect and sort-of like, but don’t necessarily enjoy (if that makes sense to anyone but me).  It’s not the extreme nature of the film.  Ichi the Killer goes much farther in regard to gore and depravity but it has a perverse sense of fun to it, which is something Audition lacked.

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