By Brett Mullins

Released: 1999

Original Title: Ôdishon

Directed by Takashi Miike

In the realm of horror film conversation, specifically gore horror, the mention of filmmaker Takashi Miike’s name a near certainty. With this being the first of his films I have viewed, I prepared for a bloody cringing all out ‘gorefest’. What I received, however, was a cleverly paced tragedy that spans multiple genres of film.

Audition tells the tale of Aoyama, a middle aged single parent who lost his wife to an illness seven years prior. Taking advice from his teenage son, Aoyama uses an audition for a film role as a guise to choose a girl for him to court. His eye is caught by the twenty four year old ex-ballerina Asami. Much like Aoyama’s struggles with the death of his wife, Asami suffered the loss of her ballet career due to an unfortunate hip injury. As Aoyama becomes increasingly giddy, the audience is led to suspect that Asami may not quite be as she appears.

If the description made the beginning of the film appears as though it was some sort of romantic drama, then that’s because it is. Immediately, the audience meets Aoyama, as he’s kneeling next to his dying wife. Next, we see him, seven years later, fishing off the banks with his son while discussing the mushy side of romance. This allows the audience to connect to with him and his son, Shigehiko, through the elements of grief and loneliness.

Once Aoyama and Asami meet, the audience can feel his happiness grow as they are cast deeper into this enthralling tale. Besides the direction of Miike, which appears to be nothing short of superb, the performances of Ryo Ishibashi (Aoyama) and Eihi Shiina (Asima) are quite convincing. Ishibashi portrays a man who struggles to contain his new found happiness, while Shiina portrays a seemingly sweet innocent girl with a troubled past. These two build an atmosphere containing great amounts of both tension and emotion.

Audition is a surprisingly good and enjoyable film, though not in the manner one would expect.

Rating: 7/10