Audition (1999)

June 29, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Takashi Miike]

If you want to get scared by this one, you will be. If you want to be terrified, you will be. And if you’re somehow desensitized to the gruesome things happening in this production, check yourself into a hospital now and get permanently tranquilized.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can let you know that the film is a comedy. And Takashi Miike’s worldwide breakout film, to boot. Miike (See City of Lost Souls for an overview) has been making weird, comic-book-styled movies for a decade now, but 2001 is definitely his hit year. This was the year Miike debuted his films at film festivals world-wide. And this was also the year he directed seven feature films.

The speed Miike works at shows (and perhaps the speed that he works on, as well). He’s adept at making human beings look like cartoons come to life, but he shies away from anything in terms of complex cinematography or a thoughtful approach to his subject matter. Luckily, author Ryu Murakami loaded his novel Audition with enough substance that the film version seems to have retained most of it. But Miike’s mood and feel is so erratic it takes away from one’s enjoyment of the film. Still, the film creeps up on you, making good use of humor and later use of surreallism to throw you off guard. And then it hits you with some of the goriest stuff this side of Dead Alive (especially in the sound department). I won’t give you any examples because I don’t want to spoil it.

Did I mention that this is a comedy? In fact, it’s a very funny satire of men’s objectification of women. It slams into you with the painful humor of author Ryu Murakami’s most biting work. But it’s funny all the same. And it leaves you feeling weird at the end.

Writer Ryu Murakami was aparently very pleased with director Miike’s treatment of Murakami’s novel. He has made public his desire for Miike to direct an adaptation of his more ambitious epic, Coin Locker Babies. While it hasn’t completely been ruled out, perhaps a letter campaign to one of the big studios backing Miike might be in order; or else, cross your fingers and hope it gets made.


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