Audition is an incredible look into a damaged soul

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Audition is something else entirely. A psychological thriller with elements of horror that is unrelenting with its tension. I was skeptical the entire time, going into this perceiving it as a horror film (by Takashi Miike no less). What I got instead was something much, much more.

The seemingly normal nature of this film gets thrown off once Asami Yamazaki, played wonderfully by Eihi Shiina, enters the fray. A complicated woman in which we learn more and more about throughout the course of the film. Her character is unclear with only a few alarming bells. It’s not until the end where we see her for who she really is.

Audition presents the theme of abuse in thoughtful and effective ways, always hinting at it through hazy and convoluted sequences. It’s subtle but clear. It’s only until the last act where we finally see that abuse manifest itself as Asami conducts the infamous torture sequence to Aoyama, a man who decides to remarry and chooses Asami as his ideal wife. Growing up abused for the pleasure of others and living alone for most of her life, it’s easy to sympathise with Asami despite the gruesome torture porn sequence that she conducts at the end. As you get through more and more of the film, you get more glimpses and a clearer picture of the abuse Asami persevered through in her childhood. Its in her last words that we get to see just how much pain she was in, how lonely she felt living all those years.

You may think I am desperate. I was longing for your call. I didn’t think I would see you again. Sorry, I’m pretty excited. Living alone was a hassle. I have nobody to talk to. You are the first one… who is really warmhearted and tries to accept me, and tries to understand who I really am.

The film’s view on gender only supports this assertion as Aoyama’s traditional view of woman leads himself to fall in love with Asami. Asami, at first glance, seems like the perfect Japanese wife. She’s modest, pure, and innocent, and she’s always shown wearing white, a common symbol for purity. Her mannerisms and outward personality show her as a pure girl, but underneath that childlike exterior lie a person twisted by abuse. It’s Aoyama’s attraction to Asami that gets himself involved with a damaged individual, playing to the film’s strengths on portraying not villains but victims.

The creepy scenes with Asami in the apartment (with that terrifying body bag) give the foreboding feeling that something bad will happen. And it does. The way this film touches on abuse while still sticking to its creepy foundation is its best strength. Not only is it uncomfortable, it’s also… quite tragic. This movie isn’t as much of a horror as it is a tragic psychological thriller about a woman twisted by her upbringing and environment. It’s in this endeavor that makes Audition such a profound film.

Grade: A


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