About 30ish minutes into this film, I was scratching my head and wondered if I was watching the correct movie. The synopsis of Audition sounded like a suspenseful horror flick, but you wouldn’t have guessed it was that kind of experience early on; It came off as more of a romantic-comedy. So just when I decided to let my guard down and release my inhibitions, the movie out of nowhere threw a curveball at me midway through. *Inhale*…. Boi.
Audition centers around Aoyama, a middle-aged widower who’s wife sadly passed away. After a couple of years have passed, his supportive son (who’s now 17) openly encourages him to try dating and maybe find a new soulmate. At first he is sort of dismissive of this request, but he changes his mind and decides that it is for the best. Aoyama is unsure of how to go about when it comes to asking someone out, so he has some difficulty at first. But luckily, he happens to be a close friend to a film producer named Yasuhisa. With the help of Yasuhisa, they hold a fake movie audition (only the two of them know it’s fake) for a leading female role with the goal of pretty much interviewing and finding a new wife for Aoyama.
After sitting through a couple auditions of watching women showing off their acting abilities and having brief conversations with some of them, he instantly becomes enamored with a woman named Asami. Not only did he find her to be quite the looker, Aoyama felt emotionally touched after reading through Asami’s resume regarding her deep passion for ballet and how she unfortunately had to quit this profession due to an injury that permanently hampered her mobility. Aoyama harbors an immense amount of empathy for her because he thought that she also knew what it felt like to have something close and dear taken away from you.
While Aoyama is incredibly happy to have discovered Asami, his movie-producing friend is deeply suspicious of her and urges him to tread carefully. He warns Aoyama that while she might be kind and warmhearted on the surface, it could also be possible that she is hiding a deep and dark secret. Aoyama decides to ignore this advice and decides to kickstart an amicable relationship with Asami, even though obvious red flags start to become clear as day to both him and the viewers. As you might’ve already guessed, Asami is in fact a ruthless and psychotic killer and then eventually haunts and sadistically torments him once he finally comes to the realization of how much he dun-goofed.
Even though this movie has mainly garnered notoriety for it’s gruesome torture sequence towards the end, I found Audition to also be a compelling character study on how isolation can warp someone’s view on the world. I guess what I got out of this movie is how paramount it is to have someone to lean on during times of grief and personal hardships. Even though what Asami does to Aoyama is incredibly repugnant and messed up, I still felt pretty sad for her because she probably lives in a constant state of fear and misery after all the cruel things that she has experienced in her life.
All in all, I found Audition to be a superb (and disturbing) movie. It has an exceptional amount of narrative and thematic substance that you wouldn’t typically expect from a “torture-film”. In addition, it also goes against genre conventions in a way that both enthralls and surprisingly works. If you like watching films with underlying subtext and not easily grossed out, I’d highly recommend this movie.