If you haven’t seen this film or read the book do not read any reviews, just watch the film. Warning: this is a long and rambling review.
The most memorable thing about Audition is the ferocious final thirty minutes which helped to establish the notion of Extreme Asian Cinema in the west and Takashi Miike’s skill for violence and grotesque horror (it also remains memorable because my Japanese teacher is fond of imitating dialogue). What is forgotten is this film showcases Miike’s brilliance when restrained and disciplined by a script with believable characters.
Since the death of his wife Ryoko seven years ago, film producer Aoyama(Ryo Ishibashi) has raised their son Shigehiko alone. The two live a happy life but Shigehiko notices his father looking worn out so asks “why don’t you marry again?” Aoyama is taken with the suggestion but is unsure how to approach remarrying. His friend Yoshikawa, a film producer, suggests staging an audition to find a girl aged between 20-35 for a role in a film that is unlikely to be made. The plan is Aoyama won’t marry the successful girl but the audition will uncover gems. Despite misgivings over the process, Aoyama proceeds and discovers ex-ballerina Asami(Eihi Shiina) and falls for her. After initial contact, she warms to his advances and Aoyama becomes increasingly infatuated with her fragile nature and beauty ignoring the dark side to the girl of his dreams.