Stars: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi, Ren Ôsugi, Shigeru Saiki, Ken Mitsuishi, Yuriko Hiro’oka | Written by Daisuke Tengan | Directed by Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike’s Audition will always be a special movie to me, because it sparked off my obsession with Takashi Miike. It also put me off the meal I was eating when I first watched it, so it impressed me too. The fact that Arrow Video have given it a special edition should be enough to make it a must buy, but do they do the film justice with their release?
Audition (Ôdishon) is the story of Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) a widower who “auditions” prospective women to date under the rues of a film role. When Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is interviewed she catches his eye, and he takes her on a first date. Little does he know that her dark past will come back to haunt him in gruesome ways. This film is about is about obsession, in many ways we can look at the character of Aoyama and criticise him for his methods of looking for a date. What we have to realise though is that Yamazaki is doing exactly the same, and he falls into her trap. This doesn’t make his actions any more justifiable, but he is the lesser of the two evils.
What is impressive about Audition is the way that you’ll notice more to the film the more you see it. Even in my latest viewing I noticed little things that I hadn’t before, but this could be down to the cut that is included and of course the added commentaries giving hints on what to look out on. On first viewing the nightmare that Aoyama goes through is confusing and very surreal, but no scene is wasted in this abstract ride through hell. It all makes sense in the end, even if it is hard to stomach.
While Ryo Ishibashi is good in the role that he plays, it is Eihi Shiina that makes Audition such a memorable experience. Her calm nature as she takes control of her “loves” and makes them fit her vision is truly chilling. If I was asked what movie should be used to demonstrate why Asian horror in its many forms is different, I may use Audition as my weapon of choice. Though it may put off the prospective fan for a long time.
While Arrow Video haven’t filled this release to the brim, they have provided an introduction with Takashi Miike which shows a surprisingly bashful side to the director. In the commentary track featuring him and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan he goes into detail about the importance of the film and what it means to him, and it is well worth the watch. Included also is another commentary with biographer Tom Mess, as well as some other features. They are all well worth watching.
Audition is a film that I highly recommend in any form, but on this Arrow Video Blu-ray release it is a must buy. I’m sure for fans of Miike it is already on their shopping lists, but for people who want a taste of extreme J-horror, this is one of the best. A timeless classic, I hope they never try to remake this as they will never recreate this film.
Audition is available on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray (and Blu-ray Steelbook) in the UK now.