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Audition (1999)

Directed by Takashi Miike Screenplay by Daisuke Tengan Novel by Ryû Murakami

  I certainly don’t watch enough foreign films, I know this. I say that because I would like to, they just have always seemed hit or miss and it may be a little more difficult to tell which way a film could go when knowing oh so little about it. I had first heard of this film when Bravo had come out with their 100 Scariest movie moments and featured a clip from the film. Foreign films certainly have a reputation of making you feel as though you’ve just taken some sort of medication that has unintentionally mindfu**ed you and you’re not sure what had just happened… But I rather don’t mind that when viewing any cinematic adventures.

  The story involves Ryo Ishibashi as Shigeharu Aoyama who has just experienced the loss of his wife, with his son arriving right after with a gift for his ill faded mother. It some years later as we see he has kept to himself and focused more on his relationship with son Shigehiko, (Tetsu Sawaki) who had taken notice to his father’s aging face and suggests the notion of getting remarried. Work seems to be okay, except for the odd exchanges with his secretary (which is eventually explained) who states will be getting married soon enough. Sending his congratulations, he later meets with a friend at the bar and discusses his intentions of marring again and soon.  Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) coming up with the idea of holding an audition and narrowing it down to a group of 30 women to follow-up with and see which suitor was best for him. Being a bit reluctant at first, decides to go ahead and choose the candidates, one sticking out in particular. Saving her until almost the end of the day, he’s just as captivated by Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) in person then when looking at her call sheet. Most of the fascination being the emotion behind stories she had for them. Only 24 but knowing an inner pain that he felt connected to with his own remorse for his wife. Instantly deciding that she would be the one, he makes a lunch date and despite Yoshikawa’s warnings of not having a good feeling goes ahead. The reason for not feeling comfortable with the set-up being that none of her references had checked out. In fact, the agent she claimed to connected to had been missing for almost a year.

  The movie takes its turn when Asami is seen waiting nearby her phone in an anticipatory, sunken manner. While perhaps not noticeable at first, a bag lies close-by and in a chilling moment the phone rings as she fantastically, eerily smiles at what this may mean for her. Being shy yet forward, beautiful though an obvious kinship with pain behind her at eyes. It seemed that in her youth she was a ballerina and had potential to actually make something out of it. Though an accident in which left her with a hip injury had taken away that dream. Either way she had maintained an obedience about her and willingness to do whatever it took to be the only one that was loved. Admitting to having lied about the agency because of being advised to and swore it was a one time occurrence. After giving her body to him, he awakes to find her gone and without so much as a note. Investigating what could have happened and attending the place having said she worked at frequently with no luck but yet another occurrence of someone being tampered with that she spoke of. Each place finding more terrifying information after another as he returns home to pour himself a drink. This would be the last time he would ever have control over his life.

  The last half of the film is a roller coaster ride of suspense as it fades in and out of dream like sequences. But they should be seen for yourself if having just the slightest interest in this film. The scene when the bag moves after the phone rings was a good set up for when the “contents” are finally released. When the scene does happen though and the “creature” crawls out; you can’t help but internally begin to panic. After he wakes up and Asami begins going through the process, she begins speaking in terms of “they” and how “Words create lies. Pain can be trusted.” Eihi Shiina’s portrayal being simply superb. *I had the chance to meet her and the director at 2010’s Texas Frightmare Weekend but did not…(I know). I did see them the most around the hotel, just wanted to get time in with the harder guests to get to. But she’s so tall, beautiful and extremely shy; she stuck to the director like glue and smoked endless cigarettes.* Claiming for everyone to be the same and finding her own way to ensure commitment. Her weapon of choice, or rather a favorite, one of those wire cheese cutters. All the while saying “Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri!” (Deeper, deeper) while cutting through the limbs which were difficult (but great) scenes to view.

  The movie itself is rather simply shot but it’s in that, that makes the quality of the  story so effective. The audio is focused around the story with little music brought in which I did like about the film. What might not yet be best understood is that Asami had been the one to drug him in an attempt to carry on a ritual in which she seemed all too comfortable with. The suspense was greatly built and the small snippets of “disturbing” images made it worth seeing what it all leads up to. What I do enjoy about foreign films is that they seem to be more focused on the photography of scenes and it really does make for a morbid beauty that might be lost with certain audiences but should be given the time to be seen for what it truly is; alluring film making with some great stories attached.