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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
Has Much More to Say Than Hype Would Have You Believe
There are about 15 minutes of "Audition" that everyone remembers and talks about, and about 95 minutes of movie that you'd think didn't even exist if you listened to others' comments. But this is the director's fault; when you set out to shock your audience as much as Takashi Miike does in this film, you can't blame the audience if all they remember about your film is the shocking part.
Which is a shame, because "Audition" is quite a bit more than a mere horror movie. It's really more of a feverish psychological drama along the lines of a David Lynch film. In fact, in structure and tone, this film reminded me of Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," and if Lynch didn't have his own unique style and brand of film-making, I might wonder if he was inspired in part by this film when he made his own.
What other comments here have done nicely is summarize what "Audition" is "about." A man (Shigeharu Aoyama) mourning the loss of his wife looks to find the perfect woman to replace her, and he holds bogus auditions for an ostensible film role in order to find her. But the girl who catches his interest (Asami Yamazaki) turns out to be a much better actress than he bargained for. What other comments DON'T necessarily convey, however, is how much of this film takes place in the world of dreams, and how blurred the line between reality and fantasy is. This dilutes the violence of the film's final moments, because there is a strong suggestion that this violence is taking place in the protagonist's nightmares.
Is "Audition" a critique of the confined roles women are forced to inhabit in Japanese society? Is it about Aoyama's guilt in feeling the need for a woman to replace his dead wife? Is it about his fear of finding a girl that actually can replace her, thereby diminishing what he had with her? Is the film about the extent to which all relationships are "auditions," where each person involved makes him/herself vulnerable and exposes him/herself to acceptance or rejection at the whims of another? A case can be made for its being about all of these things.
When the violence comes at the end, it's not as graphic as the hype would lead you to believe. Even so, I wish Miike hadn't pushed the envelope quite so far. One has to wonder if the emotional impact of the film would have been any less just because the violence was less graphic, and I suspect the answer to that is no. The violence feels gratuitous and cheapens slightly everything that comes before it. It mars the film, but fortunately it doesn't ruin it.
This is far more of a thinking man's film that its reputation would lead you to believe. Those who come to it for the titillating shock of its gore are bound to be disappointed.
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