If you want the full sledgehammer-to-the-stomach effect of Audition, stop reading this review now. Just watch it and take the consequences. At first glance, Takashi Miike's jack in the box of a movie works like a romantic ... more »comedy: amiable widower Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) decides it's time to find a new wife, and a friend suggests holding a fake audition to find the right girl. It soon becomes clear that there is something wrong with Aoyama's choice. This is no ordinary Fatal Attraction-style thriller, however; Audition slowly and carefully builds into a wrenching exploration of both deep male fears and the stereotype of the cute, submissive Japanese woman. Audition is by no means an easy movie to watch--even hardcore horror fans may have trouble--but it will stay with you for a long, long time. --Ali Davis« less
"In the battle between men and women, who will triumph? Who knows, but Japanese director Takashi Miike's film "Audition" shines a particularly brutal light on this eternal conflict. Set in Japan, the film takes on additional significance considering what we know about the role of women in that society. I am far not expert on Japanese social roles or mores, but I imagine the stereotypical picture of a Japanese woman as a subservient figure to men is more or less an accurate one. Certainly, gender roles have changed somewhat over the last fifty plus years as Japan rapidly industrialized and assumed a western style political system. One hopes that some progress in this area has taken place there, but I am not so sure after watching this film. Apparently, the idea of a docile, ever ready to serve her partner woman still exerts a strong influence in that country. Otherwise, "Audition" would make little sense to its target audience. Completely independent of its effect on Japanese audiences, the movie will send shivers down the spine of every American male. "Audition" starts like a Japanese adaptation of some saccharine American family television program. Aoyama, a man whose wife died some years before, desperately seeks female companionship. He works as a television producer, has done an excellent job raising his son, and enjoys bonding with this son on fishing trips. Aoyama, in other words, is a really nice guy. It's just that he is so lonely nowadays since his son is quickly growing up and has less and less time to spend with his father. Aoyama therefore soon faces the prospect of almost total solitude. Our hero opens his heart to his business partner one evening at the local bar, lamenting the changing face of Japanese society that has led to a decline of traditional women--meaning ladies who will stay home and serve their husbands--and a rise in the numbers of modern, cynical women. After commiserating with his buddy, the two come up with an excellent idea. Recognizing that they work in the film business, why not put out an ad for a female part in a new television program while secretly using the audition process as a means of securing the perfect mate for Aoyama? What a brilliant idea! A quick perusal of the resumes beforehand will help narrow down the final choices.The plan goes off without a hitch, and Aoyama does indeed discover a young woman who he thinks will be his ideal match. Blessed with an ethereal visage and the pretty name of Asami, this young woman seems like a magnificent catch. Aoyama likes the fact that the young woman has undergone a few personal tragedies in her life but emerged stronger because of them. He even seems to like her perpetual shyness, perhaps because it indicates Asami is a traditional woman who will know her place in Aoyama's household. Even after deciding on Asami, our hero hesitates to pursue the relationship. Should he be so forward? Wouldn't it seem indecorous to make such blatant overtures? As Aoyama debates what action he should take a few problems emerge that cast a pall over his choice. His partner encourages him to choose someone else, saying that her "chemistry" isn't right and that he has a bad feeling about this young girl. Another possible problem emerges when Aoyama discovers that Asami has no permanent address. Only a phone number links the two potential lovers, but the lonely Aoyama throws all caution to the wind and calls anyway. On the other end of the line sits Asami, who spends a lot of time sitting around a bare room waiting by the telephone. When the phone finally rings, a smile full of sinister implications stretches itself across Asami's mug. She obviously knows her charms worked on the older Aoyama and now she plans on running a show full of painful activities.No guy wants to think the sort of things that happen to Aoyama could really occur, but it can happen when you start treating people like objects instead of living, breathing beings. And Asami has been treated like an object by every male figure in her life. When it comes time to lash out at her oppressors, Aoyama is there to take the fall. The film becomes problematic when we learn that the main character is actually a nice guy. He loves his son, certainly wouldn't treat a woman badly, and is so lonely that it is tough to not empathize with the desperate measures he takes to find a woman. Miike lessens the likeability of Aoyama during the second half of the film, when we see he has some decidedly unsavory desires of his own, but I still couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. Whether the extreme torture session between Aoyama and Asami actually takes place or is a dream really isn't all that crucial to the story line although it certainly achieves a fingernails on the blackboard effect for any male watching it. I think "Audition" is a film about how men and women constantly and consistently fail to connect on a personal level. When Aoyama authorizes the audition and reads through the resumes looking for the perfect woman, he assigns a host of assumptions to Asami based on what HE wants in a woman. Whether she will fulfill these expectations in person is secondary to what the man wants. Watch the movie, not just for the gore scenes, but also to view a social critique about gender roles and miscommunication."
Kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri...
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 04/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aoyama is a sad lonely man whose wife died seven years previously. Instead of remarrying, Aoyama decided to put his all into his work and becomes relatively successful. However, the death of his wife leaves a hole in him, and when his son suggests that he get remarried he asks his friend Yoshikawa helps him by having a fake audition in which Aoyama can select 30 women and decide which one of them he wants to marry. He decides on the gorgeous Asami Yamazaki who is also very soft spoken, pleasant, and obedient. Aoyama soon becomes obsessed with the young woman, and their relationship begins to blossom revealing a flower full of worms. Asami is much more than what she appears to be.It should be noted that, although Miike gets most of the acclaim for this film, Murakami Ryu wrote the screenplay. Murakami penned such notable novels as _Almost Transparent Blue_, _Coin Locker Babies_, and _In the Miso Soup_. If I had never heard of Miike before watching this film, I would have still known to be on my guard because of Murakami.Although this film is ripe with violence, I believe that the main theme is lonliness. Aoyama is lonely. Asami sits by her phone in a dark room desperately waiting for Aoyama to call. These scenes display the lonliness that a number of Japanese, and of course others, feel in their post modern country. Surrounded by people, but all alone with no one they can really relate to.Please be prepared for some very disturbing imagery."
Kelly Kelley | San Francisco, Ca United States | 09/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AUDITION - directed by Takashi Miike (2001)
Japanese with English Subtitles
This film is un-rated and contains graphic violence.Takashi Miike has accomplished drawing the audience in slowly with subtle and well-made storytelling that turns into a roller coaster ride of white-knuckle extreme terror. At first it seems as though Miike is presenting at straightforward family drama. Husband/father Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) widowed seven years prior decides under the gentle and humorous direction of his son (Tetsu Sawaki) it is time to remarry. Simple? Well, no. Aoyama's drinking buddy Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) decides to hold a fake audition for a film in search of the perfect woman. The editing during this sequence has a natural rhythm and humor that highlights the whole facade as the numbers of unusual women are asked a series of questions. Enter Asami (Eihi Shiina), a former ballet dancer, who seems to have suffered in her past. Aoyama falls in love quickly, and against the warnings of Yoshikawa moves forward in quest for the perfect mate," a compliant woman is best." Takashi quickly cuts to a still shot of Asami, sitting on the floor her head bent down, her hair falling over her head so we can't see her face, a telephone in the foreground, and a very large canvas bag. Throughout soundtrack is very well done and there are very different types of music to fit each scene. At this point, however, there is total silence. Long enough to create tremendous tension. Miike takes the audience with Aoyama as hints Asami's of psychotic disintegration almost subliminally sneak into the narrative. At the midway point we become just as disoriented as Aoyama. Is love blind and deaf? In a series of well-edited montage scenes we are shown previous shots of conversations with different dialog, or simply, more direct. Asami seems to be disclosing all of her painful and tragic past. Or is she? Do we really listen when we are in love, or do we simply hear what we want to hear? Asami's lifelong forced submission and compliance have been driven so deep they boomerang ..standing these traits on their heads. I enjoyed Takashi's sense of direction. The film flows, picking up pace towards the final scenes effectively employing the lost art of giving the audience the maximum amount of tension and fear while revealing little. By then it is too late. Throw in a couple of misplaced acupuncture needles, dismembered limbs, three fingers and a tongue. Well, you can imagine the scenarios. Or can you? This is a slow burn, with a great pace and it really pays off. Not for the squeamish, faint of heart or anyone who is afraid of needles. Deeper, deeper..deeper."
The less you know, the better
Brian Ekberg | San Bruno, CA United States | 05/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had heard of "Audition" for months before actually getting my hands on a copy of the DVD. I basiscally knew what to expect -- slow first hour, horrific final half hour, leaving you guessing at the nature of what really happens. However, because I'd read so much about the film, I think I really cheated myself out of a truly visceral horror experience.First, a short plot synopsis: Main charcter's wife dies. Seven years later, he's lonely and decides he wants to re-marry. To meet women, he holds an audition, casting for a fake movie, in order to easily meet young women. One particular young lady captures his fancy. But she is definitely more than she seems.ATTENTION: This is NOT a Hollywood horror film. Don't expect the fake-scare red herrings, or the busty brainless chicks creeping into the attic to find out what that growling noise is. In fact, Audition contains few, if any, "shock" moments. Instead, the movie is a slow boil of disturbing creepiness that crescendoes into a brutal third act. This is not to say that there are not horrific moments, certainly this movie is rife with terrible images. But the film plays so differently from the tripe we see in American horror genres. It's slow, it's measured and it's effective. I might be in the minority here, but I enjoyed the first hour of this film immensely. I liked the main character as a person, even felt a little sorry for him during his quest to find a mate, which made his fate (which I knew because of my research into the film) all the more dreadful.I suppose because the second half of the film is so brutal, viewers might feel cheated out of what could have been a nice love story. However, I think this is what makes the film so quintessentially Japanese in its horror. "Audition" is the fright of every day relationships, taken to extremes beyond extreme. This is the darkest journey into ideas of loneliness, friendship and the fact that noone really knows anyone in this world. It is an examination of psychological fears made flesh.My advice: See this movie, but do not ruin it for yourself by reading much about it before experiencing it. "Kidee, kidee, kidee, kidee.""
Looking for love in all the WRONG places!
Eric McCalla | Denver, COLORADO | 03/31/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Takashi Miike's AUDITION (Odishon) is not your ordinary horror story. Rather, it's a complex look at human frailty, fear and the desire to be loved. I just saw it at a midnight screening, and the anticipation I and my friends felt was very high. Even the theatre management offered us their high praise of what they said is a very intense and unforgettable film.Unforgettable and intense would be just two words I would use to describe AUDITION. The words suspenseful, horrific, sad, creepy, and graphic also come to mind. This is not a film for younger viewers (those under 17) or those who are squeamish at all.The story revolves around a man, Aoyama(Ryo Ishibashi) who some years earlier lost his wife to illness, and had to raise their young son on his own. In the present day, his son is about 22 years old, and Aoyama is feeling old and very lonely. His business partner and he hatch a plan to find him a bride. They use the guise of casting for a film. They hold a casting call from the hundreds of interested young girls who respond to their solicitation. Ayoama, who desperately wants to find a wife, has already set his sights on one girl, Asami (Eihi Shiina) whose very touching letter he read from her resume.Asami enters the interview room dressed in virginal/angelic white, acting very humble and deferential like a traditional Japanese woman would act toward a man. She is literally a vision of beauty and peace, while there is much more to her emotionally and psychologically. The business partner tells the man there is something he feels is amiss with Asami, and recommends against choosing her. However, Aoyama is irresistibly attracted to her, and can think of nothing but phoning her to say she has the "part" for their fake movie.What transpires for the first half of the film is an unfolding of a potential relationship, wherein Aoyama and Asami spend hours in cafes revealing the most intimate emotions and details of their painful lives. Aoyama truly believes he is falling in love, and all will be well. He does come to tell Asami that he isn't really casting for a film, but really looking for a wife and lifelong companion. Asami then suggests they go away for a weekend away, and the downward spiral begins...What follows for the next 45 minutes or so is a collage of dream-like flashbacks (a la David Lynch), extreme violence, and a lot of "heartbreak." I'm not going to detail the events of the last 20 minutes as this is the point where you DEFINITELY don't want to get up and walk away from the screen. Too much happens here and if you blink, you will miss something.If you look past the graphic depiction of torture/revenge visited upon the men in this film, you will see that AUDITION is in many ways a social commentary on the modern-day perils, both real and imagined, that all people potentially encounter when they are paralyzed by their fears of loneliness, rejection and sadness. The film's key strength is its use of genuine suspense and the deliberate unfolding of one horrific image followed by something more innocent. It is this juxtaposition of horror and innocence, love and hate, revenge and desire, that draws the viewer further into the darkness that is the soul of the abused and the unloved.Recommended with a caution that is very graphic and disturbing. Nonetheless, you won't likely soon forget it!"