Audition (1999) – Cruel Intentions

AUDITION - Japanese Poster

Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a fragile young woman subjected to abuse and molestation by her uncle, half-father, and it would appear—every man in the world. That’s her subconscious projecting reality. Growing under cruel intentions, Asami shapes herself as a distant person. She is not what she seems. In the same city, a well-established Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), single-father, after living through loneliness as it would appear again, resolves to find a prospective partner. Designed with such objectives, Aoyama and his friend, played by Jun Kunimura, hold a mock audition under the mask of a casting exercise for a new movie. In the auditions, Aoyama and Asami face off, and from there on, begins their saga of romance, healing, and redemption.

Released in 1999, a movie that catapulted Takashi Miike into fame, Audition isn’t a horror movie—or at least, it has nothing related with the popular coinage of horror in films. As a director, Miike has established himself as one versatile artist behind the lens. Audition is that epitome of an example engulfing the filming philosophy of Miike, whist decorating horror in a different light in a style strictly reserved to Asian filmmakers and the Cinema of Asia.

Audition is a perplexing, pragmatic story; the emphasis lying on the thematic delivery of today’s social issues, succoring the intrigue of horror as its rollers, in this cinematic journey from outside to inside. As a movie, it has a guise under which we could find layers of metaphorical realities pervading our world. Utilizing a distortive method in dictating this dramatic horror, the story—penned as a novel by Ryu Murakami—has this woman, Asami, acting out her psychological conditionings, a result of a history of violence as a tool for catharsis. Going by the limb of Philosophy, what you get is what you have and what you have is what you could give. Using this mantra, the despair associated with childhood becomes the centripetal point and gives direction to life, the very perspective rising out of this minute phenomenon. This evidence, in form of visual and narrative fiction, finds its reprise through Asami—her deliberate, thorough, and premeditated mode of processing with one single point in her life: to give back what she got…


The polar opposite of Asami, her prospective suitor, is another such individual, but of the normal kind in this society having the power and position to dictate terms and treat those less privileged beings in an exclusive manner suitable to those who belong. His point of view is hardly revealed in the narrative, yet in the sequences that takes us to the precursor of it all, we understand the story in a cloudy, grose, and almost puke-worthy fashion—all seeming obvious to the eyes.

As a cinema, Audition takes shape as a tale of two contrasting forces of which is shown in a dark romantic coating for much of the time. Only in the final third of the movie, we get to witness the mysterious prosecution explode with mass sadism at its zenith. Much of the sadism and the onscreen violence is a mere reflector of the inner psychology of the characters alive in the movie—a symbolic staging that is painful to watch because of the numbing, utterly chaotic portrayal. The psychological impact the entire thing has on the psyche of the viewer while watching all of that unravel in the final portions—shuddering, spine chilling…

Despite such a twisted, and a bizarre plot meshed with an artistic charm for much of it; only to be crippled by the surreal display of explicit viciousness, Audition floats as a gutsy metaphor against male chauvinism opposed by vehemence against female suppression, which makes this movie a mind-twister and a heart-wrencher… Ideally, Audition is an exhibition of women harassment exploding as something many would wish they never saw, or worse, experienced.

The ingredients varying, all of these make Audition deceptive and a movie with a parade of motifs, which may sound cinematic but is grim to watch, and digest. It really does go to the extent of mayhem during the ending portions. Personally, I felt like turning off the whole thing just out of disgust. That, of course, shouldn’t be interpreted as a knock against the movie. It simply characterizes the extent of the ruthless impact the movie manages to forecast into the viewers. As chaotic as the movie turns out, it is a great testament to the capabilities of Takashi Miike in packaging this unholy and minuscule story into a repulsive horror that starts with the nuances of a romantic mystery and ends as a traumatic experience.


Appreciating the presentation as I have, I can’t say I’d ever go back and celebrate this movie like I would with other horror classics from Asian Cinema. I’d suggest those who appreciate atmospheric movies and have the belly to digest the unwanted frailties to watch Audition. It might not be the ideal cinematic experience, but is a fine representation of the power of art—being one of the few horrors that are closer to reality than the supernatural. It haunts you not because of the darkness but through the lens of perversity existent in broad daylight. For the sake of cinema, you may watch this dreadful demolishment of power; as an experience, the impression this movie stamps on you may not resemble any adjective aimed at flowering a positive remark. At your own, expense…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s