Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Those craving 180-degree narrative whiplash that haven’t seen Audition should stop reading, rent and return later. No, really.
An audacious, surprise-filled genre deconstruction of redemptive romance, Audition (released stateside in 2000) stunned as a cautionary tale about never knowing down what dark paths deception of others, and ourselves, will lead. It’s also Japanese provocateur Takashi Miike’s best film — a mordant spin on Little Red Riding Hood with sexist expectations as the wolf on which the tables are turned.
Distant, lonely, silent and detached, Japanese film producer Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is wary of his long-time widower’s duties. At his business partner’s suggestion, he auditions a second wife under the pretense of casting a movie. (This montage feels like a Japanese-language version of American romantic comedy, but spot the seams.)
Audition exaggerates the skillful withholding of intimate information during courtship. Later, it drops a bugnuts exaggeration of what no one’s first date should yield. Miike’s slow march of terror (in which even bedsheets appear dangerously jagged) charges to the front line in a mad rush of morbidity in the final 30 minutes.
Make no mistake: Audition grows about as rattling as movies can get, and seeing it through earns a gold star for cinema fortitude.
“Words create lies, pain can be trusted,” utters one character. But there’s reliably truthful terror in Audition’s singsong repetition of “kiri kiri” (“deeper, deeper”) — The Zeroes’ answer to Sir Laurence Olivier’s “Is it safe?” in Marathon Man.