Entertainment » Movies


by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 12, 2019

Every single year it seems like we hear a story about people fainting or walking out of a film festival screening because the film being shown is just that depraved. When Takashi Miike brought his "Audition" to Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2001, a woman hissed at the Japanese director and called him "evil" before leaving in fury.

The incredible 1999 J-horror/drama has not only gained a cult following, but it's also held up high Miike's entire oeuvre (he has over 100 directing credits as I write this review). Aside from the depravity that the beleaguered director depicts in the film, "Audition" is remarkably adept at detailing the many faults of the human condition. The way humans learn and grow (or don't) from loss has never been up on the screen in such an inventive way. By the time the final act explodes into shocking horror, the story will have you deep in its clutches of despair, not by physical violence but by the psychological degradation of the main character.

Recently widowed Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) hasn't felt himself ever since the loss of his wife. The loneliness that stems from losing someone that close pushes him to be very emotionally closed off. When his friend Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) comes up with the idea to hold a fake audition for a film with the purpose of finding him a new wife, he becomes invigorated, yet ashamed that something as dubious as holding a fake audition seems to be the only logical way for him to ever find love again. In comes 24-year-old Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), one of the prospective suitors that he immediately becomes smitten with. As the two get closer and closer, Aoyama starts to discover secrets about Asami that only make him more fascinated. Little does he know those things about Asami were secrets for a reason.

Miike's depiction of trauma borne by loss brings us right into Aoyama's mind, complete with how the character's own fractured memories alter reality in ways that'll confound any viewer. When the film finally arrives at the shocking climax, there are so many red herrings and nightmare sequences that you're not quite sure what is real anymore. What you do know is that you're watching a man as he completely falls apart at the seams because of love, again. Albeit, in a different fashion.

Arrow Films, as is their wont, has a beautiful new 2K restoration to show off with their new "Audition" Blu-ray. In addition, the release comes with a bounty of special features that'll make any Miike fan go crazy. If you decide to buy the Blu-ray, which I highly recommend you do, there's a featurette titled "Ties That Bind" that has the prolific director himself breaking down how the film changed his life and his career going forward from that point. Other special features include:

• Audio commentary with Takashi Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan
• New audio commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes
• Interviews with stars Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi, and Ren Osugi
• "Damaged Romance:" An appreciation by Japanese cinema historian Tony Rayns
• Booklet with essay by Anton Bitel

Arrow Films


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