From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Audition (Japanese: Ōdishon) is a 1999 psychological horror film directed by Takashi Miike based on a Ryu Murakami novel of the same title. A story of romantic obsession gone awry. In an interview Miike stated that this is not a horror film, in this film, the humans are the monsters. Traditional horror or not, this is one of the hardest films to sit through ever committed to film. "Kiri kiri kiri!"
Audition had its share of audience walk-outs. For its unflinching graphic content, the film has been likened to the film and In the Realm of the Senses, Vertigo. Notable horror directors John Landis and Rob Zombie found the film very difficult to watch, given its grisly content.
Feminist critics responded to the way women were portrayed as epitomizing different stereotypes, and to Aoyama and Yoshikawa's definition of the ideal woman. However, Audition can also be seen as a subversive commentary on these themes. Though initially presented as a passive model of Japanese femininity, Asami is revealed to be far more dangerous than she appears and ultimately holds power, wreaking terrible vengeance on those who objectify or seek to exploit her. Contradicting both readings, Miike himself has denied that the film is meant as social criticism at all.
Note: need to check first and second halves. The first half is very slow, almost boring, the second one contains all the action.
Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a middle-aged widower who lost his wife to an illness 7 years prior, is urged by his 17-year-old son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki), to begin dating women again. Shigehiko is somewhat doubtful of his father's love life, but plans to move out when he finishes school and doesn't want his father to be alone. Aoyama's friend and colleague, Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a film producer, devises a plan to hold a mock-audition, in which young, beautiful women would audition for the "part" of Aoyama's new wife, under the impression of auditioning for a new film but is really a plan so Aoyama can marry the winning girl.
Aoyama is immediately enchanted by Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), a 24-year-old woman with a soft voice and reserved, yet confident, mannerisms. In her audition, Asami says that she was once a ballerina headed for greatness but due to an injury, she had to give up dancing permanently. Her biggest hope turned out to be her biggest disappointment and accepting a life without ballet was like accepting death. Aoyama, still reeling from the death of his wife, is attracted to her apparent emotional depth.
Yoshikawa warns him about Asami, saying that he has a bad feeling about her. None of the references on her resumé were able to be reached and her job history is shaky. Unfortunately, Aoyama is so enthralled by her inner and outer beauty that he is blinded by his feelings for her.
The audience also begins to suspect she's trouble. She lives in an empty apartment, furnished only with an ominous-looking burlap sack and a telephone. For days following the audition, she sits perfectly still in the middle of the floor next to the telephone, waiting for it to ring. When it finally does, the burlap sack lurches across the room and makes gurgling sounds. She ignores it as she waits a few moments before answering.
When Asami answers the phone, she confesses to Aoyama that she never expected him to call. She agrees to accompany him to a seaside hotel. Once at the hotel, Asami tells Aoyama about the abuse she suffered as a child and shows him the burn scars on her body. The two make love and Asami asks Aoyama to love only her. Aoyama promises to do so.
The next morning, Aoyama is awakened by a telephone call; it's the front desk wondering if, since his companion left, he too would be checking out. He realizes Asami is nowhere to be found. Using her resumé, Aoyama searches in vain for her.
Aoyama visits the old ballet studio where Asami claimed to have trained for twelve years. He finds that the studio is now inhabited only by a disabled old man in a wheelchair with artificial feet who reveals that he caused the burn scars on Asami's legs while sexually assaulting her as a child.
Then he goes to the bar where Asami used to work and someone tells him that it's been closed for a year because the woman who was in charge, the wife of a record producer, was found dismembered with wire. When the police put her body back together, they found thirteen fingers, three ears, and two tongues.
The movie cuts to an informative yet confusing sequence about Asami's past and present. In one scene, Asami is seen finishing her dinner. She then vomits into a dog dish. The contents of the burlap sack are revealed: it's a man missing both feet, his tongue, one ear and three fingers on one hand. He crawls naked out of the bag, sticks his face in the bowl of vomit, and drinks the vomit.
Asami goes to Aoyama's house during his search. Once there, she finds a photo of his dead wife. Enraged, she slips a sedative in his drink and hides. A while later, Asami returns to the drugged and paralyzed Aoyama. As she walks in to the room, the audience sees the twisted body of Aoyama's pet dog. She proceeds to inject him with an agent that paralyzes his body, but keeps his nerves alert. Then she tortures him in a gruesome manner typical of Takashi Miike — sticking needles into his chest and moving them, sticking needles into the area under his eyelids and flicking them, and finally cutting off his left foot with a sharp wire. As she is torturing him, she tells him he is just like everyone else, in not being able to only love her. She talks about how he has love for his son (who she plans to kill as well) and their dog, and how this is not acceptable, because then he will truly never be completely hers. Her torture to him, she explains, is to teach him the meaning of needing someone.
While Asami is about to begin cutting off his other foot, she is surprised by Aoyama's son returning home. She hides and prepares to attack Shigehiko. Shigehiko walks in and discovers his dad on the floor, turns and is surprised by Asami. Then there is a flashback to a scene of Aoyama waking at a beachside resort with Asami resting peacefully next to him. For some moments it seems that all of the rest of the movie was just a bad dream that Aoyama had, and he eventually returns to bed with Asami. The film returns to the present. Asami fails to disable Aoyama's son with a spray bottle of paralyzing fluid, and is kicked down a flight of stairs, breaking her neck, and Aoyama tells his son to call the police.
- In the movie The Departed, it plays on the TV in Matt Damon's character's apartment when talking to his girlfriend