Audition (a.k.a Odishon) is a film by Japanese Director Miike Takashi
, probably his best known in the west. It is probably best to view this film knowing as little as possible about it, but be aware that it is most definately not
suitable for children or those of a sensitive
nature, although not necessarily as harsh as may have been made out. If you do not want to know too much about the film you might want to stop reading this.
The film is about a man called Aoyami. As the film begins he is by his wife's bedside in hospital as she is dying. Seven years later his son (who seems to be about 14 or 15) encourages him to find a new wife. Aoyami's work colleague (he works for a company who make films, possibly V-cinema films) gets an idea; they set up an audition for a film that they probably won't end up making, and Aoyami will select one of the girls he likes to take out on a date. Looking through the resumes, Aoyami is immediately drawn to a girl called Asami, a girl who trained in ballet but had to give up at 18 because of a damaged hip. When he meets her, she is quiet, polite, and obedient. His friend advises him against rushing into things, but Aoyami ignores him and phones her almost immediately. Aoyami and Asami seem to be getting along very well, but all is not as it seems.
The film starts off as a drama/romantic comedy, and has some touching and funny moments such as the audition itself. In the later parts (the last third or so) it starts getting very surreal and nasty, resulting in a torture scene that some have described as one of the nastiest things ever filmed. In my opinion it is not as bad as has been made out, I had a harder time watching the first Evil Dead movie than I did with this, but it is still quite unpleasant and graphic.
People have compared this film to the works of David Lynch and Roman Polanski. Certainly the surreal moments are very reminiscent of Lynch's work, but it may be more of a Japanese thing. Surrealism is far more common in Japanese cinema than it is in western cinema.
I have not heard much discussion trying to interpret what the film is about. Among the things I have heard are that it is a feminist film (I'm not sure I agree), a satire on Japanese culture (more than possible), or merely an exploitation film. Miike does love to mess with the audience, and likes to count the numbers of people walking out of the screenings of Audition he attends, and it is worth asking whether his intentions stretch any further than that. One aspect I considered was wether the surrealism was intentionally designed to not make any sense, any interpretation you choose to apply is contradicted by some element of the film. However, I feel there must be some underlying meaning somewhere, since it is based on a popular satirical novel, so surely the message from that must have carried across to the film.