Audition (1999)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 25, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 115 minutes
The Movie
Director: Takashi Miike
Starring:Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tutsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura
Screenplay: Daisuke Tengan
Country: Japan
AKA: Ôdishon
How does one describe color to someone who has been blind their whole life? The Japanese film Audition is like that. It is indescribable, if I was asked to use two words to give an idea of this film; I would have to say disturbing and brilliant. Director Takahashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) has created such a mind blowing psycho-sexual piece of cinema that to stick it in a box marked 'psychological thriller' or 'horror' is to take away its impact. When first released in Japan in 1999 as Odishon, it was played in such a poor array of dead-end theatres that it whimpered out and looked like it was going to disappear without a trace. Luckily, in 2000, Audition was then picked up for film festivals in both Vancouver and then Rotterdam, where it won both the FIPRESCI prize and the KNF award, and in the following year at Fantsporto in Portugal, it won the International Fantasy Film Award - Special Mention award and was nominated for International Fantasy Film Award.

Based on a story by Ryu Murakami, Audition is the tale of a man, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), who, after the death of his wife, finds it hard to meet a new woman. Inspired by comments made by his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki), as to how loneliness is making him prematurely age, he embarks on a mission to meet women. Using his position as a video producer he starts a series of auditions for a fictional project. After looking over many women, he finally meets Asami (Eihi Shiina), whose exquisite delicateness intrigues Shigeharu, which eventually turns to obsession, but whose obsession and to what levels will one go to get another's undying love.

All through this movie there is such a feeling of claustrophobia and discomfort that unlike many films gets right under your skin, as do most of Miike other films. Although Miike doesn't make horror films per say, he is however a reluctant film director who has had horror cult status thrust upon him. This story works so effectively as it doesn't adhere to stereotypes, there are no good people or bad people; characters are victims of their own decisions, whether they think they are morally right or wrong. This is a movie that will stick with you for a long time after you watch it.
Vision wise, Audition had what can only be described as a truly dreadful picture: muddy black and ill defined outlines. At times the white subtitles are played on white backgrounds and are extremely difficult to read. This is a real shame that such a good movie can barely be seen.
Japanese Dolby Digital Stereo track with English subtitles only. Nothing spectacular.
Extra Features
There are trailers for the European and Japanese release and a quite interesting 13 minute 30 second interview with Miike himself where he discusses his opinions on many subjects including the family unit and feminism.
The Verdict
This film is essential viewing and it is a shame that it did not get the attention it deserved when it was first released in Japan. Unfortunately that disrespect is continues with this shoddy DVD R4 package. The Region1 Unrated Special Edition from Lions Gate Films is a much better buy.
Movie Score
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