You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me




Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Japanese Title: Odishon
Director: Miike Takashi
Writing Credits: Murakami Ryu (Novel), Tengan Daisuke (Screenplay)
Cast: Ishibashi Ryo, Shiina Eihi, Sawaki Tetsu, Kunimura Jun
Genre: Horror Drama
Year Released: 1999
Runtime: 115 min
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4 stars) (Feel free to add one star if you’re amenable to violence)

Audition starts out innocently enough. Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) has lost his wife to illness seven years ago, and under his son Shigehiko’s (Tetsu Sawaki) encouragement, he decides to seek out a suitable woman to remarry. His friend Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) helps him set up an audition, under the guise of producing a new movie, to screen potential brides. Aoyama finds himself strangely attracted to one of the applicants, Asami (Eihi Shiina), and despite Yoshikawa’s advice, decides to court her. However, Asami disappears after a night of passion, and Aoyama tries to track her down. He finds out that the people connected to Asami’s past are either missing, demented, murdered or mutilated, and when he finally finds her (actually, she finds him), he also finds himself in a very, very, very bad situation.

Audition is a well acted movie, and almost the whole cast is rather convincing, even the supporting actresses who barely have ten minutes of screen time carry off their roles well. However, the most impressive performance is from Eihi Shiina, whose tranquil exterior belies her extremely psychotic intentions. A femme fatale with a killer toolkit (comprising long acupuncture needles, syringes and a piano wire), Eihi’s Asami manages to commit shocking acts of violence while looking completely impassive throughout the whole movie. No one will manage to forget the way she says "kiri kiri kiri" (Japanese for "deeper deeper deeper") while wielding her needles, and even though (practically) no one can identify with or condone her truly sadistic acts, director Takashi Miike does set up several flashback sequences to explain her dark side. Ryo Ishibashi is also credible as the good-natured (and some would say gullible) leading man, and the audience can truly feel his pain in the latter half of the film.

Takashi Miike is masterful in his handling of the film, and milks the audience’s emotions for all they’re worth. The first half of Audition is light and breezy, humourous and comedic, completely throwing the audience off the scent of the truly dark and deeply unsettling second half. Any sense of security or comfort is quickly lost once Aoyama begins his search for Asami, and several scenes are truly reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s work. A particularly chilling scene depicts Asami sitting motionless in her living room, waiting for Aoyama to call her, and culminating in a "surprise" scene that made more than a few audience members scream out loud. Takashi Miike also exploits the "it was all a dream" denouement, and turns the audience’s expectations upside down once again in the last few minutes.

Audition could have been a fantastic show, but my appreciation of the movie was largely muted after the horrific final 20 minutes. Takashi Miike commented that the reason for the copious amount of violence was that "The desire that everybody would live in peace is an illusion. The yearning for violence is very honest. Allowing this to come out is much healthier than trying to suppress it. In my films, people are like monsters or beasts. Their violence is extreme but at least honest." I do agree with the fact that not everyone would live in peace, but I feel that Takashi has tried too hard to make his point in Audition. The denouement goes on for way too long, and the way Takashi’s camera lingers on every sadistic act of violence seems to almost suggest that he likes what he sees. To describe the final act in two words, I would choose "interminable" and "excessive". I was truly surprised to see that only two people walked out of the theatre, but perhaps it was because the rest were too scared to move (Supposedly, in the Seattle Film Fest, audience members scrambled to get out of the theatre, shouting "Let me out!").

Audition is a truly successful horror movie, and unflinchingly portrays typically taboo scenes in traditional Hollywood cinema. Sadako in The Ring? Peanuts when compared to Asami. Gory scenes in The Cell? Audition is ten times worse. Unsettling sequences in The Exorcist? Audition ups the ante. Audition is probably a horror masterpiece, but due to the excessive violence, I simply cannot find the stomach to recommend this film to any sane moviegoer. However, Audition is a movie that will linger for an inordinate amount of time in my mind, and anyone who watches this movie will never look at acupuncture needles, piano wire or Japanese women the same way ever again. "kiri kiri kiri…"

Final Word: Unsettling. Incredibly unsettling. Violent. Incredibly violent. Not for the weak-of-heart or the squeamish. Nightmarish but brilliant in its own demented way.