Document type
20 March 2001
Format viewed


picture: Audition (1999)picture: Audition (1999)

Original title
Alternative title
The Audition
Takashi MIIKE
  • Miyuki MATSUDA
  • Eihi SHIINA
Running time
115 mins.

picture: Audition (1999)

Tom Mes

Though accompanied by the highest audience walk-out count I was ever lucky enough to witness, Takashi Miike's Audition played to great critical acclaim at 2000's Rotterdam film festival and subsequently went on to become a worldwide festival and art house favourite.

Audition was based on a novel by Ryu Murakami, who - even though a number of his books haven been translated into English - is best known outside Japan as the director of the art house hit Tokyo Decadence (Topazu, 1991). Murakami was reportedly so enamoured by Miike's film that he personally asked the director to adapt his best-known novel Coin Locker Babies.

Despite the fact that it was originated by someone else, Audition's story of a middle-aged, widowed tv-producer's search for a bride through the means of a fake audition for young actresses, once again adheres to the Miike trademark of being both attractive and repellent, fascinating and disgusting. After a deceptively languid and almost melodramatic first hour, this develops into a white-knuckle endurance test of viewer's nerves.

Like so many of Miike's films, Audition revolves around collision. In this case, it's men's attitudes towards women which get violently overrun by their own naiveté. The film seems to be an indictment of the (Japanese) male's attitude towards, and views of, women. Ryo Ishibashi's widower wants a beautiful, chaste, dutiful, young and humble wife, but doesn't mind letting the potential candidate go through the meat market process of the audition, where she is expected to wait in line with a thousand others in order to bare her breasts for two middle-aged men she has never met. And all because he lacks the nerve and the social skills to meet someone in the real world, where the odds are more even. He is driven by fear and weakness, looking for a quick and easy solution that becomes his downfall.

However, though the above fits the character, Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan also give Aoyama a sense of doubt about the wrongfulness of the path he has chosen. His personality is a grey area, not black or white. He may lack nerve and social skills after seven years of being alone, but that doesn't make him evil. During the audition scenes, he watches somewhat uncomfortably at the procession of young women parading in front of him, while his colleague, who suggested the idea of the audition to him, goes through it all without a hint of emotion. As the film proceeds it becomes clear that Aoyama's feelings for this girl Asami are indeed true and we get the feeling that given time this relationship might work. But time is not on their side, cut short by the sledgehammer finale Miike serves up for us.

Miike himself vehemently denies that Audition is meant as social criticism. In fact he denies the existence of any kind of artistic pretense in his films, instead stating that he is in no position to criticise his fellow men and that he simply wants to create the best possible result from the material offered to him.

Whichever way you look at it, the film works. Psycho-thriller, social indictment or both, Audition proves to be a powerhouse.


Lions Gate (USA)

picture: DVD cover of 'Audition'

Region 1. English subtitles.

Chimera (USA)

picture: DVD cover of 'Audition'

Region 1. English subtitles.

Tartan Video (UK)

picture: DVD cover of 'Audition'

Region 0. English subtitles.

Buy at:

Studio Canal (France)

picture: DVD cover of 'Audition'

Region 2. French subtitles.

Buy at: