sun 09/08/2020

DVD: Audition | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Audition

DVD: Audition

The landmark Nineties Japanese horror film still packs a punch

Ready for romance: Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) auditions in 'Audition'

Although Audition was released in 1999, seeing it again reveals it as neither dated or blunted by subsequent, more alarming horror films whether Japanese or otherwise. As it was then, Takashi Miike’s study of a romantic relationship gone wrong remains out there on its own. Audition is arguably ground-zero for torture porn and would go on to influence films like Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005: in which Miike made a brief appearance) but the films made in its wake have none of its subtlety or flair with shockingly juxtaposing the day-to-day and the horrifying.

Audition is a landmark film, and if it hasn’t been seen the arrival of this new, conscientiously restored home cinema version is a good reason to investigate it. The package is stuffed with extras and comes with a booklet including a fine, contextualising essay. On the disc – issued in dual format – trailers, a commentary by Miike’s biographer, cast interviews and a specially filmed appreciation are supplemented by three top-drawer essentials: a new introduction by Miike, an interview with him and a commentary by the director himself making this the film’s ultimate edition.

From its plot, it is not instantly obvious why Audition is so important and why it deserves this treatment. Following the suggestion of his son, the unassuming middle-aged widower Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) sets out the find a new wife. A close friend from a film company suggests holding auditions for a fake film as a method of finding a likely woman. Each candidate writes an essay on why she should get the role apparently on offer. Aoyama is entranced by one he reads, and becomes more so on encountering its author in person. Initially, the film appears to be a light-hearted, albeit twisted, romantic confection.

Soon, Shigeharu is dating the 24-year-old audtionee Asami Yamazaki (the extraordinarily creepy former model Eihi Shiina). She is quiet, dresses anachronistically, is seemingly charmed by her new suitor and is, above all, enigmatic. She is, though, not the shrinking violet she seems to be. Things soon turn very strange, and very, very dark and Audition begins showing its hand as a film like no other. It has to be seen.

Initially, 'Audition' appears to be a light-hearted, albeit twisted, romantic confection

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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