Thriller
Audition
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Dir: Miike Takashi
Star: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1999
Format: DVD R0
'

Lonely widower and single father Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) with the encouragement of his teenage son decides that after mourning the loss of his wife for 7 years that it is time to re-marry. After discussing the pitfalls of "modern dating" with his best friend, who happens to be a movie director/producer they decide to hold an audition. The audition will be for a role in a non existent movie but will serve as a means for Aoyama to find his perfect woman and potential bride. After perusing the photographs of the applicants he finds a woman that he likes and becomes interested in which soon develops as they become deeply involved. Aoyama's friend however is unhappy with his choice and convinced there is something wrong begins to delve into Asami's (Eihi Shiina) very hazy past, just as things start getting very strange.

This is one of those un-nerving little tales of mutually assured destruction that acts as a subtle warning to any lovesick men out there. As if dating wasn't hard enough thesedays that you need another reason not to bother and this is certainly one of those reasons as it makes Fatal Attraction look quite tame in the "bunny boiler" stakes. Right from the outset the film meanders along at it's own pace, but leading to only one possible conclusion.

The story is quite well put together and taken from the novel by Ryu Murakami and it forces the viewer to concentrate as it crawls along. The pacing is slow but steady and it would have benefitted from being pushed a little faster. That said, certain scenes literally creep up on you and hit you quite hard with their subtle brutality. What originally appears as a heart warming tale of a father coping with his loneliness with "heart to heart" chats between Aoyama and his son in which they discuss girls/women and loneliness not to mention the loss of his wife. You can almost empathize with him as Audition leans toward a soft focus romance before suddenly degenerating. The film slowly builds everything up nicely then promptly smashes it all down, as the film spins down into unnerving madness.

Not a film for the squeamish or easily shocked as the film has some truly nauseating and evocative moments. Visually the film is quite potent and the sometimes extreme imagery certainly hammers home a subtle and disturbing point. An underlying prescence of physical and emotional abuse brings added menace which neatly frames the obsessive and tortuous psychological and physiological atmosphere. A reasonable cast provide some good performances but Eihi Shiina steals the show as her slight, lithe form becomes a stark nightmare inducing image. The wicked glee she exhibits and maleavolent enjoyment she gleams from her maniacal acts is enough to make anyone think twice before dating.

I did find the film a little dissappointing after all of the hype and media attention surrounding the film. Some of the direction is poor and lacklustre and in places quite staid and cliche. The film can be quite disorientating in places which further adds to the head spinning capability of the whole experience. Despite it's flaws however, Audition is one of those films that has a certain capacity that can either un-nerve you or for some, most likely outright scare you.

Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Good quality image
Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Good quality soundtrack considering it is stereo
Features Filmographies
Semi animated, musically accompanied menus
Original theatrical trailers
Film notes by Chris Campion
Series of "Asia Extreme" Eastern Cinema trailers
Verdict Not a bad disc but nothing impressive in the way of extras. Unfortunately the film suffers from "burned on" subtitles and the very basic "extras" are typical of the Tartan DVD "Asia Extreme" collection releases.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home