tagReviews & EssaysA Review of Audition

A Review of Audition


A Review of Audition

In a twisted look at a relationship between a man and a seemingly shy woman, Takashi Miike directs "Audition", based upon a novel written by Ryu Murakami. In a film that generally indicts men’s attitudes and naivety towards women, Ryo Ishibashi stars as Shigeharu Aoyama whose wife dies at the beginning of the film. In an immediate cut to seven years later, Aoyama is convinced by his, now teenage, son to get married again.

Living alone with his son over the seven years has left him socially inept and completely clueless in how to go about meeting, courting, and eventually marrying a woman. Discussing this with a work associate, they concoct a plan to find and introduce him to a suitable woman to be his wife. Obviously wanting the woman to be personable, beautiful, good with kids, able to cook and willing to do housework, the two determine the best way to find such a woman was to hold an audition.

Though skeptical at first, Aoyama is desperate and agrees to this plan devised by his film producer friend. In order to attract the women, they advertise as if searching for an actress in a new film. With this type of bait, the men are soon interviewing a wide range of attractive and sometimes odd women. Throughout the interview, Aoyama is clearly uncomfortable with the deception, but carries on with the continued urging of his friend.

The women prove to be amenable to all sorts of odd questions and situations, some even stripping and posing as requested by the men. While a number of women appear interesting to the friend, Aoyama is uninterested until, Asami a shy woman, very quietly enters the room. Though clearly not as beautiful as some of the women interviewed, Asami’s unassuming attitude and quiet behavior attracts Aoyama. As soon as she leaves the interview, Aoyama tells his friend to stop all further interviews.

Against his friend’s warnings, Aoyama ignores the fact the biographical information provided by Asami is sketchy at best, he makes arrangements for a second interview with her, away from the office, in a more social setting. She agrees to the meeting and is not surprised to find only Aoyama present for this second interview. She remains completely cooperative while he asks more and more personal questions about her and, in fact, actually seems to be genuinely interested in him.

By the end of the second interview, Aoyama, no longer able to keep up the pretense, admits to her that there is no movie. Though initially intimating that they lost funding, he finally tells her the truth that he was searching for the right woman. She is undaunted by this information and admits to him that she pretty well figured that out, so she agrees to continue seeing him.

Over the next several weeks, the pair meets on numerous occasions and it appears they are getting closer and closer. This woman seems perfect for Aoyama, almost too perfect. This feeling is accentuated in several scenes where Aoyama tries to call Asami, but gets no answer to the phone. As the scene cuts to Asami’s room where she is seen at the edge of the frame, looking at the ringing phone, there is a strange, large bag adjacent to the phone. This scene is repeated several times throughout their courtship, until, during one of these scenes, the bag sudden moves and rolls over. Though still tightly tied shut, the bag rolls in one direction and then quickly back.

While dating Asami, Aoyama is nagged by his friend to find out more about her, finally agreeing to locate a bar she supposedly worked at. After some searching he finds the address and goes to visit only to find the bar closed. He talks to a neighbor who remembers Asami, but also tells Aoyama that the bar is closed because the bar owner, who had been exposed as an adulterer was brutally murdered. The neighbor describes how the owner was cut into pieces, and how when the police went to piece him back together, they found three extra fingers and one extra tongue.

Relieved that Asami has escaped that carnage, Aoyama returns and continues his relationship where they plan a weekend together. During the weekend Aoyama professes his love for Asami and they discuss marriage, where she exacts a promise that he will remain devoted only to her. They go to bed in a mildly erotic scene and after that, the movie’s images seem to suggest perhaps dementia or a hallucination.

The next morning Asami has strangely disappeared. Aoyama spends the next week searching for her as she simply does not answer the phone. Then she suddenly appears at his house, where they appear to make up. While sharing drinks, she drugs him with something that immobilizes him. He is unable to move, but can still feel any sensations over his body.

Suddenly, the images of the bag and the phone begin to make sense as Asami begins to, once again, exact a sadistic revenge on a man. Asami’s perverse tortures are spine tingling as she discusses the pain centers of the body while applying her treatment. She also berates him for his audition.

The intensity of the final scenes is heightened though several cuts back and forth in time, increasing the feeling of dementia (from the drug). In spite of the dishonesty at the audition though the film, Aoyama remains a very sympathetic character, so the final few scenes are brutally felt by the audience.

Though a bit slow at the start, Takashi Miike’s direction fuels an incredible intensity as the naïve Aoyama falls into Asami’s trap. Though Ryu Murakami’s novel has not been translated into English, the story is clearly in his style. The message is a clear indictment of many Japanese men’s attitudes towards women. This story puts one man in his place, severely.

The movie was filmed in Japanese with English subtitles. It is available in DVD format from Amazon. com and other movie retailers.

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