Audition 1999 Movie Ryo Ishibashi as Shigeharu Aoyama looking at Eihi Shiina as Asami Yamazaki during the fake audition

Audition AKA Ôdishon [1999]

If you’re looking for your way into the world of underground horror, Audition a good movie to start your quest. Now a cult classic, it inspired movies and many film-makers like James Wan (Saw) and Eli Roth (Hostel). It’s very deceptive and follows a strong “normal” narrative that anchors it firmly in reality and enables the viewer to follow the story without much trouble. Audition first brought international attention to a little known Japanese director Takashi Miike, who followed it with one of the sickest and most perverted cinematic “pleasures” called Koroshiya 1 AKA Ichi the Killer. However, his best movie, in my opinion, is Jûsan-nin no shikaku AKA 13 Assassins, a samurai epic that will take your breath away.

Based on a novel written by Ryū Murakami, Audition carefully builds its characters, taking time to show us all the little details in their lives. They feel so real that you feel privileged and almost intrusive to be watching their lives unfold. This fits in well with the overwhelming voyeur vibe with a strong sexual component. All the while, a standard-issue drama plot is developing in a style of the best British romance movies.

Seriously, if you want to prank your friends or partners who are into romance movies, this is the perfect movie for it because for an almost entire hour there are just subtle hints about the real story. Hollywood rom-com with our homeboy setting up an audition to find a new girl may be too much for this moment in time, but in the eighties, this would be a hit movie. We’ll be talking about these themes later on in the review, but for now, let’s see what’s the Audition about:

Shigeharu Aoyama is a successful businessman living with his son, stuck in a rut of middle-aged routine life. His wife died years ago and ever since then he has been having trouble connecting with the opposite sex. While drinking with one of his friends, Yoshikawa, who’s a film producer, Aoyama decides to hold an audition in order to meet the perfect woman for him. Yoshikawa sets the whole thing up fairly quickly and soon enough Aoyama is looking through biographies of many actresses, searching for his future wife…

Masterfully directed, Audition sucks you in with little details that create this authentic vibe. You don’t even notice that you’re emotionally invested and as the movie unfolds, the atmosphere becomes heavier and heavier because you know that this is not going to end well. Well, you also learned that from this review so I would rather skip telling you the entire summary because Audition is best viewed cold, meaning the less you know, the better. However, I should tell you that this is one fucked up movie that explores themes that are controversial and pretty disturbing. It is okay to feel disgusted or anything else about these themes, but we must talk about them.

To simply ignore them will not make people not have them and this is something that people need to understand. We need to be aware of just how fucked up the world we live in is and the choice to live this “baby-proofed” world is something that will cost us dearly in the future. And not just in the future, we are paying the price for this already, you just need to connect the dots and see what are the causes of certain behaviors and disasters. Again it all boils down to our tribal nature and human instincts, this “basic” mode of living that enables you to feel things much more intensely, mostly because you’re absolved of responsibility and able to obsess about simple things. Religion also played a huge part in the whole thing, albeit mostly as a vessel.

The relationship between men and women are different in each country and each continent, but they all feature similar characteristics. Here, we’re treated to a Japanese structure of a male-female dynamic complete with school-girls, clothes, voyeurism, perversion and finally this submissive role of women that’s the most famous one by far. I mean, the main story is about a guy who organizes a fake audition in order to get a wife, something that sounds like a plot for a porn movie.

This objectification of women may be too strong of a motive to notice the reduction of men to a mere provider, a role that is closely connected to their dominance over their wives but stills fails to define them as real human beings. This brings us back to tribal society and this need for structure and defined environment, but I feel I am going to lose you in all this explaining, so I think it’s better to check out the movie and see how you feel about these themes. This is the greatest thing about it, it makes you think and comprehend the subjects raised in a rational way. And I am not singling Japan out here, every country has its own brand of fuckedupness, it’s just that Japan is pretty vocal about its brand.

And one final warning, please do not watch the trailer for this movie as it gives away too much…

Director: Takashi Miike

Writers: Ryû Murakami, Daisuke Tengan

Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi


Fun Facts: When the film was screened at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2000, it had a record number of walkouts. At the Swiss premiere, someone passed out and needed emergency room attention.

IMDb Link: