The Friday Afternoon Movie: Audition

I’m not sure if it’s telling that Takashi Miike’s best film is also, by all accounts, his most conventional. It may be more telling that, considering the content of today’s FAM, Audition, it is one of the director’s less bizarre offerings.

Based on the novel by Ryu Murakami, Audition is the story of a single father looking for a wife. Shigeharu Aoyama’s wife has been dead for seven years and, urged by his son Shigehiko, he begins the now alien process of dating. To help in this matter, Aoyama’s film-producer friend Yoshikawa concocts a grand plan, in which they will hold mock auditions, telling applicants that they are vying for the role of Aoyama’s wife in an upcoming film. In the course of the auditions Aoyama becomes entranced by Asami Yamazaki, a seemingly soft-spoken and reserved 24 year old. He will learn, in due course, that she is anything but.

Audition really shines in its pacing, and thereby, its atmosphere. Something is not right with Asami. When we first see her on her own she is sitting in her apartment. It is an empty apartment, furnished only with a sack and a telephone. Asami sits in the empty apartment, staring at the phone and when it suddenly rings she does not move. Not even a twitch. The sack, however, is a different story.

This scene sets the tone for the rest of the film. We know that something is going to happen. We are waiting for it, mulling it over, guessing at it, and yet we could not have imagined what would finally happen and that terrible occurrence happens in one explosively brief moment of release, so brief that we are barely given time to understand its entirety before it is over and done and, in the end, we are left just as clueless and hurt and bewildered as Shigeharu Aoyama. This, then, is the genius of Audition and Miike, a director whose oeuvre, so rife with a frenetic insanity, belies the talent required to maintain such a perfect cadence. I look forward to the day when he tops it.

9 Responses to “The Friday Afternoon Movie: Audition”

  1. E.Bleak Says:

    I have not yet and likely will never get tired of this film and the complete left-turn into Hell that it takes. The only thing better is showing it to someone who’s never seen or heard about it before and just watching their faces go :O

    Asami’s uncomfortable to watch in the same way that EVERYONE in Rosemary’s Baby/The Tenant was.

  2. Jaye Says:

    Miike’s really got a gift for making the ordinary seem really creepy, or for making the viewer feel creepy for watching.

  3. CgBeastie Says:

    I love the suspense of this movie.
    You will always remember the phrase “deeper deeper deeper deeper” or “kiri kiri kiri kiri” after you watch this movie.

  4. Veronica Says:

    I posted about Audition earlier today, too. Weird. There’s a wonderful stillness to it, too, in a genre that pioneered the handheld look. Heh.

  5. Mer Says:

    Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri….


  6. Kale Kip Says:

    I saw it in a sneak preview and dude, I loved that film so much! No matter what happened, I kept feeling sympathy for Asami. Great work!

  7. Nadya Says:

    I love how it starts of as this light-hearted romantic comedy. You don’t know quite what to expect, or where it will go.

    And when it goes where it goes… SHIT.

  8. Ana Says:

    This sounds very famili– AHA, knew it! “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us”, by My Chemical Romance, has a video based on this film.

    Oh geez, don’t hold it against me.

  9. Stache Says:

    Yes, this film, not to relegate it to some single mode, is a seductive exercise in lulling a viewer into a false sense of romantic longing and even comfort. The final turn of events is all the more extreme, indecipherable, and gutting for it.

    This description might make the experience sound contrived or stilted to exacerbate the ultimate violence, however, Miike’s nuanced treatment and character sensitivity seduces nonetheless.

    What is not seen or spoken is the greater iceberg beneath the surface and I am reminded of Tokyo Decadence for the quiet complexity of the human condition and direct emotional impact.

    The Audition does stand out among his other offerings that seem excessive and overwrought in comparison.