In Tokyo, Shigeharu Aoyama is a widower that grieves the loss of his wife and raises his son Shigehiko Aoyama alone. Seven years later, the teenage Shigehiko asks why his middle-aged father does not remarry and Shigeharu meets his friend Yasuhisa Yoshikawa, who is a film producer, and tells his intention. However, Shigeharu has difficulties to approach to available women to date and Yasuhisa decide to organize a sham audition for casting the lead actress for the fake movie. They receive several portfolios of candidates and Shigeharu becomes obsessed by the gorgeous Asami Yamazaki. Despite the advice of the experienced Yasuhisa, Shigeharu calls Asami to date and he falls for her. But who is the mysterious Asami?Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Many items deleted from the finale in the U.S. "R" rated version. Most items are implied, but in the uncut version they are shown. this includes close-ups of the needles put into Ryo's body, a close-up of the hypodermic needle in the tongue and a shot of Eihi discarding Ryo's dismembered foot. See more »
Art-house horror flicks are not a very common genre (few come to mind except 'Don't Look Now') but Takashi Miike's film 'Audition' is a welcome addition to the canon. Beautifully shot and orchestrated, it is both a subtle personal drama and one of the most genuinely horrifying things I have seen. The early stages of this film resemble a work by Claude Sautet, only seen through a Japanese sensibility, about the relationship between an older man and a beautiful young woman, but there's something slightly discomforting both in the man's definition of the perfect partner, and in the person he finds who fulfills it. The story slides into first a mystery, and then a full blown horror story, the power of which comes from following a very simple golden rule: namely, make the audience care about the characters first: one small needle can be very very scary if you think that it's for real. And by keeping the meaning ambiguous (unlike, say, 'The Shining', with its self-defeating collapse into hyperbolic mania), the film also retains its impact after the initial shock.
This sense of ambiguity is also crucial to the film's claims to be something more than simply an unorthodox gore-fest. 'Audition' constructs, and then deconstructs, a certain vision of the world and the "horror" scenes are only part of this. The result is utterly beguiling, and one can even see similarities with Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' in 'Audition's' portrayal of a man's complicit relationship with hell.
In some ways, this is not a universal film and I could not imagine it working in English: can you envisage any Western actress speaking the Eihi Shiina's lines with a straight face?. Whether that's because the film is saying something profound about Japanese culture, or whether the fact that it appears to do so can finesse the issue for foreign audiences, I'm not sure. Dramatically, 'Audition' is, despite its climax, not the best film ever made. But atmospherically speaking, it's a masterpiece.
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