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John Ary's Aint It Scary Reviews #13 Of 31!! Takashi Miike’s AUDITION!!

Published at: Oct. 13, 2012, 7:46 a.m. CST




John Ary here with another installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews.  Today we follow a Japanese widower that gets more than he bargains for when he courts a mysterious young woman.


Takashi Miike’s Audition is movie that no middle-aged single man should watch alone.  The director’s take on modern-day romanticism spirals down into a deep dark rabbit hole full of homogenized dating rituals and grisly torture.  The quest for love has never been so difficult to watch.  

Our protagonist is a widower, raising his teenage son in Japan.  When he mentions to his friend and business partner that he may be in the market for a new companion, the two hatch a seemingly harmless charade.  They plan to hold an audition for a fake television show.  Our widower combs through the resumes, searching for his next wife.  One girl stands out above the rest and the two form a relationship.  She’s beautiful, young, lonely, obedient, wise beyond her years.  In other words... she’s perfect.  This amazing woman is hiding a secret though, one our main character will discover too late.

This is such a strange film.  It starts off like a harmless romantic comedy and slowly shifts into something much more menacing.  There are small clues along the way that this girl may not be on the level, but people in love tend to overlook small inconsistencies. The infatuated see what they want to see.   Miike makes a statement here about the male chauvinism of his culture’s dating rituals.  Marriage seems more like a business proposition than a romantic quest for a soulmate to our main character.  He’s looking for someone to fulfill his base needs, rather than a life partner.  By pursuing a list of check marks instead of looking for an equal, our middle-aged Romeo ends up with a marriage candidate that is too good to be true.


 

This film is most notable for its gory climax.  It’s brief, tense, appalling and very well done.  The ending reminded me a lot of the sledgehammer scene in Misery between Kathy Bates and James Caan, but amped up with more psychological intensity.  There is blood.  There is pain.  There is death.  It is very unpleasant.  

Some of the most horrific images take place in the imagination of the protagonist.  I think this is Miike’s way of playing with the audience and it’s a witty comment on his own film.  We have almost two hours to wait for this bloody climax.  We know it’s coming.  After the main character is drugged by his disturbed girlfriend, he suffers through a series of flashbacks and hallucinations.  He envisions a grotesque outcome for himself that involves a mysterious bag.  Will this outcome be worse than what his perfect mate has in store for him?  Audition is an exercise in anticipation.  We wait to see just what this young woman is hiding.  When all is revealed, you’ll wish our Romeo had just hired a professional matchmaker.     

Audition is currently streaming on Netflix.  It’s also available on Blu-ray here.

Check back in tomorrow for another Ain’t It Scary Review as a deadly humanoid-feline roams the streets of Paris.

Here’s a look back at the Ain’t It Scary Review installments that you might have missed:

The Ground Rules to the Project
#1 Son of Frankenstein
#2 Scream, Blacula, Scream!
#3 Black Sabbath
#4 Maniac
#5 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
#6 Invisible Invaders
#7 The Mummy’s Curse
#8 Lord of Illusions
#9 Night of the Demons
#10 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
#11 The House of the Devil
#12 Dr. Phibes Rises Again!

 

For more video news, reviews and interviews subscribe to the AICN Youtube channel and follow me on Twitter.
 

Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 13, 2012, 7:50 a.m. CST

    eek eek eek eek

    by MaliceHighload

    as desensitized as i am to movie violence, this one somehow gets hard to watch.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Love this!

    by NOBLOODNODALLAS

    Give it to a friend who has not seen it and tell them it's a romantic comedy. Ahhh....fun.

  • I doubt there is much truth to that...I sure hoper there is not...it sounds like a terrible idea to me.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 8:48 a.m. CST

    How did you miss this one, ary?

    by adeceasedfan

    It was the toast of the town back in '99/'00. Granted that was a dark and scary town where only the brave go out at night. It happens, I'm glad you liked it. I was lucky to catch it at a local horror festival and even though I bought the DVD, I've yet to revisit. It's a tough one.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 8:53 a.m. CST

    kittykittykittykittykittykittykittykittykittykittykittykittykitty

    by Nasty In The Pasty

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Spoiler

    by in6087

    I remember at the very end of the movie when Asami falls down the stairs and breaks her neck just feeling the most incredible sense of relief "oh.. thank Christ for that!" Pretty darn awesome and intelligent movie. The sudden movement and groaning from the sack is one of those indelible horror movie images.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 9:22 a.m. CST

    It's actually 'kiri, kiri, kiri'...

    by Desk

    And means 'deeper, deeper, deeper.' I discovered this as one of the first things I interrogated a good pal's Japanese girlfriend about, along with questions about Gatchaman and Gojira. Desk

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Imagination? SPOILER...

    by FreeBeer

    ...Long time since I saw it, but pretty sure the guy in the sack wasn't in his imagination. I know there was weird stuff aside from that like the flapping tongue and other trippy imagery. Wasn't the guy in the sack real though? A past victim, what would have become of the protagonist if he hadn't broken her neck at the end?

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 9:49 a.m. CST

    exaclty freebeer..

    by Windowlicker74

    the guy in the sack was definately real..just another victim..my god that first image when he calls her and she picks up the phone with the sack in in the background suddenly moving..! and she's feeding him her vomit:)

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 10:02 a.m. CST

    One of my fav Asian horrors

    by Marcus

    Definitely near the top of that list. Can't forget Ichi the Kill, The Grudge and Battle Royale.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 11 a.m. CST

    Love the movie, but... does it classify as horror?

    by MariusXe

    Its more like a disturbing psycho satire, is it not? Never really saw it as a horror flick. Sure, it has horror elements, but its not really horror. Doesn't there have to be some sort of scary, supernatural element to a horror movie? You wouldn't call Oldboy a horror movie, or, lets say, strange circus. Horror elements, sure, but not a horror film. A least in my head its not. Maybe I should check out the definition what makes a horror movie.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Ad I did not mean a satire of the movie psycho.

    by MariusXe

    I meant like a psychotic satire on the dating scene.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Still, great movie. My favorite Miike movie by far.

    by MariusXe

    Liked Ichi, was bored to death by visitor q and that demon samurai one... with the great music.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Has Miike made any films recently that match...

    by billyhitchcock1

    ....the level of intensity of this or Ichi? Haven't really heard much of him.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 11:24 a.m. CST

    More like a triller than a horror movie..

    by frank

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 1:01 p.m. CST

    ringringringringring.......

    by david starling

    .......This is a complete headfuck of a piece of art, and you really need to stick with it - the opening crawl of the pace gives-way to the sickest feeling you'll ever have!! Maybe not the most instantly appealing of movies, but this will stick with you. It will never be remade, because it cannot be watered down - it can't, just face it. Takashi Miike has a few classics, and this is among them!!

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 5:56 p.m. CST

    Spoiler

    by SQUIDDLY

    One of my fave parts of ANY movie is half way through the torture it cuts to him and her being the perfect couple and part of you thinks "jesus thank god he was just dreaming it" and part thinks "cop out" then it cuts back....its real.....absolutely awesome.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 7:54 p.m. CST

    This film is right next to Psycho, in my book.

    by beastie

    Absolutely brilliant. One of the best films of the past 20 years.

  • Oct. 14, 2012, 12:36 a.m. CST

    @mariusxe: definitions of horror

    by KanekoFan

    Definitions of the genre very. I've never perceived the supernatural, or even being "scary" as being strict necessities. I prefer the psychoanalytic definition, which suggests that anything that disturbs us through a sense of the uncanny is horror. That can mean the supernatural, the psychotic, the surreal...

  • Oct. 14, 2012, 2:32 a.m. CST

    I always assumed

    by alpha

    The torture bits are his nightmares. I think they are in keeping with what they have set up for the male character. I think it's a commentary on his weakness rather than any genuine evil from her. Thats why he wakes up midway through and she's lying there sweet and innocent still because in reality she is sweet and innocent and all the darkness is actually in his head. When he returns to sleep all the darkness continues. The guy is an emotionally detached jerk who uses women (like the woman in his office) and at some level I think he fears that it will come back to torture and destroy him. She mutters that he loved others when she is at the bottom of the stairs near the end and I think that is his own mind trying to tell him the truth. My take is he's an emotionally stunted jerk with a deep fear of women and that all manifests in his paranoid imagination. In some ways that just makes it all the more jarring emotionally.

  • Oct. 14, 2012, 2:49 a.m. CST

    I liked this persons take on it - I think it sums it up

    by alpha

    The Three Faces of Asami: i.e. it's all psychological Sorry about the lateness of this post. I didn't even hear about this movie when it first came out. I only discovered it recently, but boy am I glad I did. It's not just a good horror flick; it's got a deep meaning, once you find the key to access it. Besides reading the few posts here, I also read all 21 pages of reviews about it over at www.IMDB.com (Internet Movie Data Base). And while the majority of people enjoyed it, so to speak; very few of them even came close to understanding its message. So since no one else saw it this way, I may be way off base. But it makes perfect sense to me; so I'm glad to share it. * * * * * Spoiler Warning: This isn't a review of the film for those who haven't seen it yet. It's an analysis of the film's psychological meanings for those who have seen it already. Spoilers ahead: You've been warned. * * * * * The film doesn't EVER shows us the real Asami. Neither the submissive girl at the beginning, nor the psychotic fiend at the end is really her. All we are ever seeing is Aoyama's own perceptions of her in each phase of the relationship; perceptions which are not real but instead are colored by his desires and guilt and then projected onto Asami. It helps in understanding the meaning of the film if you first understand the symbols used. Consuming Alcohol represents having a blurred view of reality: The two men are drinking when they discuss their skewed, old-fashioned views of how a woman should behave. Aoyama is drinking when he is reviewing the resumes; spilling directly on Asami's resume shows that his view of her specifically is unreliable. Also he is usually drinking each time we see him thinking about her. Even just before the torture scene he is drinking, what we are to believe is a poisoned drink, showing that even that view of her is not accurate. Feet represent adultery or fornication through the metaphor of "running around". Removing the feet then represents preventing infidelity. A Tongue represents telling lies, usually; can also be just talking in general. An Ear represents listening to someone; a missing ear, then, is not hearing what they are saying. A Finger represents touching; typically physical or sexual abuse, but also may be intimacy. As the film opens we see Aoyama completely lost in his emotions due to the death of his wife. It is only the appearance of his son that brings him back to stability. In effect, it is his relationship with his son that "saves" him emotionally. He does not recognize that women have the same feelings that men have. This is indicated by the secretary who keeps announcing that she is leaving to get married, then waits for him to give a reaction that doesn't come. She's wanting him to be happy for her, because she has worked for him a long time and cares about what he thinks. But he has never noticed her other than as a worker that's there to do a job. Her feelings, if she has any, are insignificant. Likewise, in his discussion with his best friend about what kind of girl to choose, he likens it to picking out a car. After he has been widowed for seven years, it is at last his son who suggests that he enter another emotional relationship. Since his son was once his savior and remains the focus of his life, he has put his son on a pedestal and listens to his advice. Their relationship is not a traditional one where the son always defers to his father; instead the father is submissive to the son, even though it should be the other way around. This is shown when the son tells the father to do the dishes and the father complies; when the son has a guest come over and the father gives up his dinner for the guest; and when the son enters the father's room without knocking. Once he decides to look for a new wife and agrees to the ruse of an audition, he starts having feelings of guilt which begin to interfere with his desires; at first subtly, then more pronounced. He expresses several times that he feels like he is doing something wrong and even feels like he's committing a crime. He's not a bad man; he doesn't want to deceive anyone. He also can't bear the look of his deceased wife from her photo as he peruses the audition resumes. He still feels a sense of commitment to her, even though she's gone. His guilt is growing both from stepping out on his wife and from holding a sham audition. Although we never get to see the "real Asami", we can gather from the dialogue that she was as she said -- an aspiring ballerina who had an unhappy childhood and whose career was cut short by a tragic event. But Aoyama never sees the real Asami because he starts projecting onto her his image of the "perfect partner" from the very start. As he reads her resume, her story that her hopes were ended tragically and she now feels dead inside serves to elicit sympathy. As he remembers his own loss he makes her into a tragic heroine. He then falls in love with his created image of her as the "perfect Asami" without ever having met her and knowing nothing about her. When Asami comes into the audition room we cannot see the real her, we only see Aoyama's projection. His image of her is a sweet, shy, submissive, properly formal, "good girl". During the questions that his best friend Yasuhisa asks, we hear the real girl's answers, but Aoyama isn't paying any attention to them, he is only attentive to his projection. When he finally talks, he doesn't really ask her much; instead he does most of the talking, telling her how wise she is for her age. Her only responses to him are, "Yes" and "Thank you". These were the real girl's responses. We can hear her throughout the film, we just can't see the real her. Every image is colored by Aoyama's psyche. Each time he calls her or even just thinks about calling her and we see her waiting by the telephone, we are not really seeing her in her apartment, we are seeing his imagination of her. As he calls her he is imagining that she is doing nothing but waiting by the phone for his call. When Aoyama begins thinking about meeting someone through the planned audition, even before the first resumes arrive, he "sees" a girl sitting in her room waiting for him; but at this point she is not yet defined enough to have features, those are put in place only after he sees Asami's photograph. This image of a submissive girl just sitting and waiting for him to summon her is merely another manifestation of his old-fashioned, male-dominant outlook. After dating a few times they go away for a weekend together. Although the weekend was his idea, once there he imagines that he is the stuttering innocent who doesn't have sex on his mind and that she is the one who initiates the sex. After their encounter he falls asleep and most of what follows is only a dream. He is dreaming from the time he kisses her till he wakes up and finds he still has his foot. He's awake just a few minutes before going to sleep again. He then dreams again till the end of the film. The story told in the dream state is choppy and jumps a bit. Prior to consummating their relationship, the real Asami admits to Aoyama that she was molested as a child. Previously she had only said she'd been injured, but now she wants him to know the truth before proceeding any further and for him to decide if he can accept it. She bares herself to him, figuratively, and reveals to him her scars; and he tells her it doesn't matter. When he had first heard of her abdominal injury he thought it was related to her dancing, so he felt sympathetic; but now that he hears it was a sexual encounter, he starts becoming disillusioned. His image of her begins changing to the opposite of goodness. Both her confession and his own act with her cause a change in his view of her from a perfect Asami to an "evil Asami". Although Asami is young and beautiful, she has not pursued finding a boyfriend because she knows that once men find out about her past they'll reject her. But she recognizes that it's hard for a girl to live alone. So she takes a chance that perhaps an older man might not be so picky, especially if he's getting a beautiful, young girl in return.. She's also encouraged to take a chance with Aoyama since he's actively pursuing her. But she has guessed wrong: he is picky and wants a "good girl". She had tried to let him know early on by telling him her past in a coded way, by saying she'd been abused and had received an abdominal injury. But he was blinded by his projection of the perfect Asami and didn't comprehend what she was saying. His best friend, however, understood what she meant and so kept trying to dissuade him from the girl. After they have sex and Aoyama begins dreaming about her admission, he at first thinks about losing her. He even recalls his best friend's warnings to forget about her. But then he insists that, "No", he still wants her. However, as his subconscience takes over, he begins examining everything she's told him and the details start coming apart and recombining in a more negative picture. As he thinks of the sexual assault he suspects the dance teacher. The teacher's feet are prominent, symbolizing his debauchery; but they are deformed, showing that his sexual interests are perverted. Aoyama at first imagines an old lecher who has taken advantage of a small child; he crawled between her legs and left her scarred for life. But as he continues to consider this he begins to think that she may not have been so young and helpless after all when it happened. The dance teacher asks him if he has talked to her (tongue), heard her (ear), and touched her (finger). Next, as he thinks of her employer, the imagined dialogue with the fellow employee makes that whole story "go to pieces". As he considers everything she's told him there are too many parts, and some of them don't fit together into a proper whole; there are details left over, figuratively. The scene culminates in the image of the severed tongue flapping around, which for him signifies lying. He comes to think that everything she has said has been lies and deceptions. The missing record producer and missing bar madam are two of the pieces he can't make fit. These were just facts thrown into the story to allow for misdirection. We're supposed to think that it's the record producer in the sack and that the bar madam was murdered and dismembered. But actually it's just coincidence that the record producer left town and only because of insufficient detail that he can't find where Asami worked. Aoyama's best friend only says he can't track down the record producer and the bar madam; that doesn't mean anything has happened to them, it's only a lack of information. But his imagination turns these things into pieces that don't fit her story; so she must be evil and lying. The extra pieces of the dismembered body are described as three fingers, an ear, and a tongue (remember those?). That there are "three" fingers is a product of him imagining that she was touched by three people -- her Uncle; her Stepfather; and either her Aunt if we're considering any abuse, or her record producer if it only refers to sexual abuse. Personally I think it refers to the Aunt, and that the record producer had very little involvement with her before leaving town for unknown reasons. He is also led to question just what it is he is looking for in a woman. A succession of images of different girls attacking him sexually -- an aggressive Asami, his secretary, and even his son's young girlfriend -- all serve to expose to him his conflicting ideas of women's purity, innocence, and sexuality. His changed image of Asami is again indicated by his consumption of alcohol, in what we think is a poisoned drink. His picture of her has now been poisoned and takes a very dark turn as he begins to imagine the evil Asami torturing him and destroying every part of his life little by little. He is experiencing the pain that emotional attachment can bring: loss of freedom, visceral torment, and submission to another's will. Evil Asami is both the manifestation of his disillusionment with Asami who is now seen as not perfect, and the embodiment of his own guilty conscience which is punishing him for lying and running around, and his attitude towards women. He comes back to reality momentarily when he wakes up with a start, finds he's still in bed with her, and to his relief still has his foot. He realizes that his perception of her has changed, but before he can figure out what to do she announces that she will accept his marriage proposal. He now feels trapped in a relationship with someone whom he no longer feels to be a perfect partner. So he goes back to sleep and dreams again, trying to find a resolution to his problem. Prior to their weekend together he had always pictured her in dazzling white clothes and with a submissive demeanor, symbolizing her purity and goodness. But after he slept with her and after her admission, he could no longer consider her "pure". So he began picturing her in black leather and with a very dominant personality; the very opposite of what he considered a "good girl". He still didn't see the real her; but now instead of projecting on her an image of goodness, he began projecting on her an image of wickedness. His imagination put pictures to all of the negative metaphors of his guilty conscience -- telling lies (cut off tongue), tasting pain (syringe), feeling it in his stomach (needles), a playboy that "runs around" (cut off feet), searching for beauty and youth (eyes), losing his head, and so on. When the negative images first start making themselves felt, he tries to run and escape; but he is literally tripped up by the sack on the floor. He finally opens it to see what it is and is shocked by what's inside. The sack represents his own emotional feelings toward Asami. It first appears when he considers calling her for a second date. Initially he is able to keep his emotions under tight control; completely bagged up, so to speak. But as he becomes more interested in this girl, his emotions wake up and start working to get out. When he calls her and the phone rings too long, he imagines she's deliberately waiting and his emotions jerk; but then she answers and the sack lies still. Each time his emotions grow we see the bag move. Later when he finally opens the bag and releases it we see a tortured man who has been stripped of almost all his humanity, completely enslaved to the whims of this woman no matter how sadistic and evil she may be. He cannot tell lies, or run around, or touch other women. In other words he is emasculated. He is totally trapped by his emotions and powerless to free himself from this girl, despite projecting onto her a facade of great evil. Although he is now completely disenchanted about her purity, he is already ensnared by his emotional attachment to her. He will do anything she wants, even to the point of being treated like a dog and lapping up her regurgitated lies while she pats him on the head like a pet. Only after he's realized this do his thoughts turn to his son. His son saved him from emotional helplessness once before, perhaps he can do it again. As Aoyama concentrates on his son, he appears. At first it seems the evil Asami may destroy him too; but their encounter is interrupted by Aoyama waking up briefly. When the dream begins again, Shigehiko and Asami battle it out in Aoyama's head to see which will prevail. At last Aoyama finds his love for Shigehiko is stronger than his attachment to Asami, thus he is able to break free of her domination. He had become completely enamored of this girl despite his assertions early on that he was mature enough and smart enough not to be taken in by emotions. But as things progressed, neither his love for his pet, nor his love for his best friend, nor even his love for his dead wife were enough to prevent him from getting ensnared once he had decided to have an emotional relationship again. He had been lonely too long. Only his love for his son was strong enough to free him from his false projections and help him become emotionally stable again. Once he had killed the image of the evil Asami he was able to hear for the third time the conversation from their second date. The first time he heard it, it was colored by his perfect image of her, and her family was rich and happy; the second time he heard it, it was colored by his evil image of her, and her family was abusive and hateful; but the third time, he actually heard the real her. And he comes to realize that there is a real person behind his projected images; someone with real feelings, someone just as vulnerable as he. As they had prepared to sleep together, her request that he "love only her" was seen by him as her attempt to assert control over him, and his mind rebelled against that. In actuality it was just a plea for him not to hurt her. Finally, once he got a grip on his emotional state, he heard their conversation one more time. In the third version he finally comes to understand the meaning of their relationship -- we take a chance, and we suffer a lot, but we survive. They both had taken a chance on the relationship, and both had exposed themselves to potential suffering at the hands of the other, but if they respected each other they could survive. All the time that he's having the second dream, he is still with her in bed on their weekend trip. But the film doesn't show him awakening from the dream and doesn't tell us how he will resolve this in his waking life. Will he go ahead and marry her, or will he dump her? How he will now handle the real Asami isn't told. The story is about how Aoyama's "projected views" of Asami changed as their relationship progressed and how his feelings of guilt were made manifest then resolved. He goes from seeing women (Asami) as objects meant only to serve men submissively, to seeing that they are also people with their own needs and feelings; and those needs are similar to his own -- the desire for companionship, love, and respect. We don't see what he'll do with her when he wakes up, but we know that he will at last see the "real Asami" and will recognize that she's more than just a servant or a pet.

  • Second was Ichi The Killer. Do i know to pick them! But i also lovedIchi. So, the i got to see the Dead Or Alive Trilogy. Which i also enjoyed a lot (the ending of the first movie must be the craziet ending of a film i ever saw!). And the piece of reistence was Gozu. Gozu!!! Good lord!!! It's great too. The remake of 13 Smuai is pretty sweet. I need to see more of Miike's moves. He has made a lot. do think he is one of the best directors woking today. I always see him as if he's a creative brother of Shinya Tsukamoto. I awas link them by the hip.

  • I really enjoy those two Nightmare Deective movies. It's Shinya Tsukamoto at his most mainstream ad yet they still have his dictinctive touch.

  • And that movie is totally madness. I loved i it but damn, is it crazy like hell!! And they promised a sequel!

  • Oct. 14, 2012, 8:06 a.m. CST

    scirocco

    by John Ary

    I haven't seen the Nightmare Detective movies. I'll have to check those out.

  • Oct. 14, 2012, 2:47 p.m. CST

    @Mr johnary

    by albert comin

    I think you might enjoy those Nightmare Detective movies. They are hardly as radical and extreme as "Tetsuo: The Iron Man". And if you saw that movie, you know what i mean.

  • Oct. 14, 2012, 10:42 p.m. CST

    This movie rocks!

    by vettebro

    Very disturbing. When I first saw it, I didn't expect what was coming. Definitely not to be missed.

  • And i certainly didn't expected it like it is. No matter how much you hear about the 3rd act, it always caughts you by suprise on how intense it is.

  • ...but which later came out on video. Even though the basic premise of the story was good, it was very hard for me to get past the graphic torture scenes. He's a good filmmaker, but I simply don't have the stomach for watching young girls senselessly being brutalized.

  • Oct. 15, 2012, 2:36 p.m. CST

    I can't believe people find the protagonist sympathetic....

    by Homer Sexual

    He's awful! The only thing about him that is at all sympathetic is that he is a human being and it is unpleasant to watch another person suffer, even a misogynist prick like him.

  • Nov. 13, 2012, 7:39 a.m. CST

    @alpha You think wrongly.

    by tensaip

    That reviewer must have nodded off watching AUDITION, because he dreamed up an explanation for the film which does not jibe with what anyone who stayed awake knows. ------------SPOILER----------- The "pure" Asami is Aoyama's romantic projection. The deranged praying mantis who sits by her phone all day is the "real" Asami. Aoyama's dream sequences like the Bag scene are his subconscious correctly processing the information that his waking mind has denied. While awake Aoyama convinces himself that the dreams are symptoms of relationship paranoia. He does not want to reject her over minor personal details anymore than he would want himself rejected over minor faults. The idea that virtually the entire second half of the film is simply a long dream is ridiculous. Aoyama passes out during his torture session and dreams that "pure" Asami has accepted his proposal and that finally wakes him up for good because his mind has flipped-flopped. His conscious mind is finally alert to reality and sees life as it is while his subconscious skews to hopeful aspirations.

  • Nov. 13, 2012, 7:54 a.m. CST

    @homer sexual You're judging from the wrong cultural view

    by tensaip

    This a Japanese film made for a Japanese audience. It is nevertheless an indictment of Japanese masculine culture. One-third of Japanese marriages are arranged. The higher the social class, the more likely the marriage was an arranged one. Aoyama's checklist is not too unusual; had he gone to a professional marriage broker, he would have to provide a similar checklist. However, the drawback is that he might have had to wait for years before the broker (on retainer) produced a suitable match. Aoyama is not a misogynist by Japanese standards, he just happens to be a typical Japanese bourgeiosie male. Miike, if anything, is stating that he believes such men have become effeminate.