This film has us stumped, not in the sense that we don’t have any theories on its ending, but in the way that the experience was so perfect it has left us with writers block.
The film begins with Aoyama’s wife dying and his seven long years of loneliness. This leads him to need to remarry – “men can’t maintain without female support.” He and his friend Yoshikawa set up a fake film audition for a project called “Tomorrow’s Heroine.” Asami is one of the applicants and through spilt coffee Aoyama is completely smitten. The titular event is creative in the way it is edited – a montage of mixed questions and answers (i.e. have you ever been involved with the adult film industry? This is the scar from my first suicide). The only straight forward audition is Asami’s. Over the course of what seems like weeks the two finally stay the night together in what we consider the biggest scare within the film – commitment. It ends badly, full of regret. After their tryst Asami vanishes, this is the point in the film where Miike begins to cross genres or emulate his influences. The fist third of the film is meditative, slow, uneventful and framed in long shots and long still takes causing a subconscious or archetypical feeling of what complete loneliness means. It is isolation, the un-nerving quietness, the infinite moments of pause we’ve all felt when alone for long enough, and as Aoyama begins to obsess over Asami we begin to do the same for the film.
A lot of Aoyama’s long shots in the start of the film are from far away and only show his back – we are not even able to help him as an audience. Yoshikawa fills this silent space with drunken misogyny to which Aoyama’s - equally inebriated - agrees to his friend’s views. This is the point in which the feminist interests prick. From here we have a man caught in a web of sexual inequality – where his beliefs in finding a mate that is ‘obedient,’ ‘talented,’ and ‘pretty,’ are qualities that are not only old fashion patriarchal, but superficial and a recipe for disaster. This disaster’s name is Asami whom from a feminist standpoint represents an image of revenge – a poster child for equal representation. Other readings of this film suggest that love in Asami’s life has always been tied to abuse and pain – so for her to share this with someone is to love them. She could also just be an actress that gets really pissed off when she doesn’t get a role. I think its variety of reasons is what appeals to us the most - the ambiguity.
The second third of the film plays out like an Argento or Bava giallo film where flimsy clues lead to the truth. On this journey to find Asami we find a character that rivals Denis Hopper’s gas inhaling Frank from Lynch’s Blue Velvet, this character plays the piano in an abandoned dance studio with his back to us and Aoyama. He asks questions about Asami and the man reveals he is in a wheelchair with two false legs. The disgusting man asks about Aoyama’s trysts with Asami, “how did she smell?” “Did you hold her?” Each time he asks a question he lets out a malicious laugh. We learn later that this character is Asami’s step-father and had abused her after her aunt and uncle already ruined her purity and innocence. From her childhood experiences she has become a lonely woman who believes that only through pain can she love.
The end of the film is the most discussed aspect of Audition because it features excruciatingly disturbing images cut together by a style of editing that could be called cross-cut reality. This end sequence sums up my belief that Audition was somehow inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film cuts between Aoyama being drugged, the complete truth of Asami, her music director tied in a bag rolling around (still scares the hell out of us), even back to the night of making love and everything works out and Asami stays. Miike cross-cuts back to Aoyama who is paralyzed and being tortured by Asoami. The quiet normal world immediately cuts to the scary place of Asami’s world where she cuts his left leg off. Aoyama was warned of her three times but didn’t heed the advice: his son, his friend, and his maid all told him to stay away or not be fooled. The ending is amazing, after waiting and being drawn in slowly the film pays off in getting under your skin. We feel as though we're being tortured every time we hear “kitty, kitty, kitty” which means deeper, deeper. We can still feel those acupuncture needles. This surreal and abstract nightmare of dream and reality could be a hallucination – a way to take himself out of the pain and try to give reason for her insanity, but no matter what he ends up with his leg cut off.
“I want you to love me and me alone, do you promise?” If loneliness leads to this we better find mates quickly, but ask for other’s opinions instead of relying on a prophetic sign in spilled coffee.