Thursday, November 5, 2009

Audition: A Demented Love Story

Takashi Miike's 2001 art horror film has gained a particularly large cult following in the west, and the following is rightly deserved.

Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), plays a widowed television producer who's son Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki), has convinced him to find a new wife ten years after his first wife died, before he is too old to wed again. Shigeharu is lonely and unsure how to find a new mate, and is uncertain of his future because his son will be moving out and going to college soon. The question posed is how will this lonely man live the rest of his life? Alone?

Not knowing how to approach women anymore, Shigeharu's old friend Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) has set up an audition for a fake tv drama to help find Aoyama's perfect woman. The winner of the auditions, Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), is a 24-year-old woman with a broken past, and broken dreams of becoming a famous ballerina. As a young women she had severe hip injury. To Shigeharu she is the ideal calm, delicate, complacent and trained woman, but she turns is too perfect to be true.

In the end her true character is revealed.

The majority of this film is a romantic comedy with tidbits of suspense and drama spliced in, however, the last 20 minutes take a morbid downward spiral into Asami's psychotic mind and frightening past. Also, Shigeharu's sexist ways are revealed to him in one of the final scenes where he's in drug induced unconsciousness. Flash back scenes and figures of women he's used appear before him and show him the ugly truth of his parasitic ways.

Asami is a deceiving fiend, with a past of sexual abuse from her Ballet instructor, which has left her with deep physical and mental scars as well.

Her reaction to Shigeharu's busy lifestyle as a father and business man is volatile. Asami interprets his time away as him trying to leave and hurt her so she reacts upon him in a way that's all too easy and familiar to her. When she feels like she'll be hurt she brutally and mercilessly tortures and maims her significant other so they will be forced to stay with her and depend on her for survival, like a lifeless sack rigor mortise stricken mannequin.

Audition is a riveting film about how a person copes with loss, in the most extreme and terrifying or pathetic ways. The composition helps show the deepening madness of Asami as the two become closer romantically.

The cinematography is beautiful, with many red, blues and yellows lighting's used to create varieties of nightmarish or bright settings.

Takashi Miike is well known for creating prolific films that address social issues indirectly, and also writing original stories that not many would ever create, but with Audition Miike has taken a more traditional approach to horror and refined it to an art form.

I would say this is a movie that cannot be passed up by the avid film buff!

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