IFFR KINO #14: Audition

On Wednesday, 4 April, IFFR KINO will screen Miike Takashi’s psychological horror thriller Audition (1999). The film that marked the taboo-busting Japanese master’s international breakthrough.  

Seven years after the death of his wife, company executive Aoyama (Ishibashi Ryo) is invited to sit in on auditions for an actress. Leafing through the resumés in advance, his eye is caught by Yamazaki Asami, a striking young woman with ballet training. On the day of the audition, she’s the last person they see. Aoyama is hooked. He notes her number from her file, calls her and takes her to dinner. He hesitates to call again, worried that he’ll seem too eager. When he does, Asami knowingly lets the phone ring for some time before answering. She’s alone in her darkened room – alone, that is, apart from the writhing victim she has tied up in a sack on the floor... To tell more about the plot of Audition, would spoil a number of seriously macabre surprises.

So let’s just say this is a Miike film – an extremist psycho-thriller featuring scarred thighs, home addresses which turn out to have been boarded up for years, drugged whisky, acupuncture needles, piano wire and some quite terrifying time-slips. It’s drawn from a story by the notorious Murakami Ryu and written for the screen by Imamura Shohei’s son Tengan Daisuke. It’s superbly photographed by Yamamoto Hideo, who shot Hana-bi and Ring 2. 

Miike Takashi, Japan, 1999, 115’