- SPOILERS. Kind of. That’s for the kind of forum monkeys who non-ironically mark the climax of Titanic in highlighted text. But for anyone who wants to take my word for it, go rent Audition - this is a movie that is best watched without even reading the back of the DVD. Tom Chick, push faggy Y Tu Mama Tambien back down to the bottom of your Netqueue list, cause unlike Beaver Lake, this is worth it!*
Holy crap! Has anyone here seen this?!?! The editors of Video Watchdog - who are basically just souless DVD-spinning cowboys at this point through the desensitization process that results from years of freeze-framing the rape scene in Last House on the Left and comparing it to the 1989 Criterion Laser Disc while scribbling down missing frames numbers frantically in a notebook - basically said that they found it unwatchably disturbing.
But I found this out afterwards - my Dad just put it in without a word one night while I was back for Christmas. After being bored for a while by the saccharine beginning, I was started becoming more and more unsettled by the film, until the end of the movie I was just squirming and saying “Jesus!” and “Where’d that bag come from!?!?!” over and over again.
I rarely mindlessly parrot the launder quotes on the back of the DVD case, but Richard Falcon’s quote from Sight and Sound seems appropriately descriptive of the only movie I’ve seen lately that I’ve felt was more experience than film: “A sadistic breach of contract between film maker and audience of which Hitchcock could only dream.”
The entire plot of the movie is basically a set-up for the horrific climax, which made me sort of think at first that, disturbing as Audition was, it wasn’t much of a movie. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that there is some really interesting stuff going on and the movie took a great deal of talent to make.
Obviously, the latter half of the film can be interpreted as one of two opposing dreams: one in which Aoyama is dreaming about the investigation of his girlfriend’s disappearance, the revelations about her past, and his final torture by way of pins and hacksaws; the other, in which he briefly hallucinates from the pain of that torture that his girlfriend never disappears, and he lives happily ever after.
But there is a lot of weirder stuff going on: even if you believe Aoyama is really being tortured at the end of the film, there is no unquestionable confirmation that Asami’s past is what he is making it out to be, or anything more than another of his hallucinations. Any time Asami mentions being tortured as a girl, she does it within a dream sequence that Aoyama has after first being drugged (?) by Asami - not when the scenes in the film first take place.
All the rest of Asami’s “history” (if you believe Aoyama isn’t dreaming his subsequent investigations) is afforded by very subtly disturbing scenes: a creepy old man at a Ballet School and a bar which Asami said she used to work at where a horrific murder may or may not have occurred a year before, in which Asami may or may not have been involved.
From out of these snippets of information, Aoyama fashions an entire history of psychological horrors for Asami when he is first drugged. But the more I think about it, I realize that, even if I believe that Aoyama is really tortured at the end of the film by Asami, that her motives for doing so are completely unpenetrable. Does Asami really keep a mutilated man in a sack in her apartment as a pet? Was she really tortured by the old man at the ballet school? Is Asami even psychologically disturbed at all?
I find myself still thinking about the film a couple of days letter, and disturbed more by the fact that, even after watching Audition, I can not come to grips with what happens in it. Leaving the reality of the entire film’s events in question makes remembering it something like trying to make internal sense of a surreal nightmare. Since there is no valid interpretation of its interna reality, the entire film remains disturbing and disorienting long after the closing scenes.
I haven’t even mentioned the superb, honest-to-god SUBTLE direction and writing. Seriously, Audition is surprisingly deep. I’d recommend it to anyone I thought could stomach it. Probably one of the best films I’ve seen this year.