[ORIGINAL POSTED 7/11/2015]
Audition (1999) is another cautionary tale about the complexities of humanity. Each person is multi-faceted and although people like Asami had an unfortunate past, it’s easy to overlook what psychological and physical effects the abuse had on such a person. Often times, empathy and sex overcloud our judgment of the other. Can we really know who or what sleeps beside us?
The first half of the movie depicts Aoyama and his friend’s scheme to find him a wife 7 years after his ex-wife passed away from an illness. Near the beginning, Aoyama and Yoshikawa have a conversation about the possible women that are going to apply for the fake ‘audition’ for a made-up movie role. His friend describes the “perfect woman”, which correlates with how a person would describe an animal. Obedient. Yoshikawa makes a play on words when he says “don’t mix up your car and wife”, which implies that these two have similar roles…to serve their master. From the beginning, the audition was misogynistic because the use of trickery implies that these women are incapable of thinking on their own and are gullible to an opportunity; where the ultimate prize was to be the wife of a 40-year old widow. When Aoyama and Asami meet for the first time, it was clear that he deserved to be punished for his actions.
Throughout the movie, Asami is an actress. She depicts Aoyama’s version of the perfect wife.
She is obedient, attractive, and highly trained in the art of ballet. The last trait reminds Aoyama of “how we experience death in life”, which reflects his traumatic past experiences as his wife was hospitalized and eventually passed. Asami’s version of her story is that she discontinued her passion for ballet when she got injured. The broken ballerina is a story that inspires sympathy and is meant to tug at the heartstrings of gullible men. As the audience, it was ironic to witness cross-manipulation. Aoyama thought Asami was an fragile, innocent girl who got abused throughout her early years
Aoyama falls in love with Asami’s acting. He began the story with deception, but Asami ended it with her punishment.
Yoshikawa stated, “Happy People Cannot Act.”
This quote sets the tone of the movie.
The Bagged Man
The audience does not see what or who is hidden inside of the large sandbag next to Asami when she patiently awaits Aoyama’s call until near the end. It is later revealed that the bag holds a disfigured man whom Asami held captive and continuously tortured. He was fed Asami’s vomit as the only source of sustenance throughout his captivation. He was most likely a man that held a fake audition to lure women to become potential brides and also encountered Asami along the way.
In Aoyama’s nightmare, he was the one who opened the bag and revealed the broken man. The bagged man symbolizes the real personality and intentions of Asami; broken, ugly, evil and distorted. Aoyama is tasked to open the bag to reveal her personality because she wants him to “see her entirety and love only her”. He later fails and is subjected to gruesome torture.
The way that this mysterious man is tortured and mutilated is puzzling. When Aoyama visits the The Stone Fish Bar as an attempt to find the missing Asami in an earlier scene, he encounters a man that lives near the deserted bar. He tells him that the bar has been closed for atleast a year because the owner got murdered. However, an extra tongue and three fingers were found at the site of the crime scene. These extra body parts belong to the bagged man and symbolizes the nearing of a conclusion. Asami is the only suspect.
In Aoyama’s nightmare, Asami begins feeding the broken man with her vomit. She morphs into the child-version of herself in the process. This child transformation symbolizes innocence and the loss of innocence. Asami knew that these men who claimed to love her only seeked to hurt her through abuse and lies. These men and their fetishization of Asami led to the distortion of her reality.
Descent to Hell
The Stone Fish symbolized Aoyama’s descent to hell. The scene depicts a long, dark, never-ending flight of stairs that went down in a spiral. After Aoyama encountered the former neighbour of the owner of the Stone Fish, the scene cuts to a image of a flipping tongue. The tongue belongs to the broken man…
Step-Father & Psychological Abuse
In search of Asami, Aoyama enters the ballet studio which she had practiced her craft for 12 years. He finds a man playing piano in the dark. Aoyama tried to inquire about Asami but as the myserious man turned around, the audience saw his prosthetic feet.
This character was her step-father who continually physically and sexually abused Asami in her childhood. He used hot metal rods to burn her skin in her inner thigh, which satisfied his list for a child. It is also implied that he had sexual relations with Asami. She eventually got her revenge when he cut off his feet using wires.
In a much later scene, it is shown to Aoyama through a nightmare that Asami also used wire to strangle her step-father…while she was cutting through his meat and bone….he says “you’re wonderful Asami” he was a true sadist and masochist
I never felt unhappy… Because I have been unhappy all this time.
: ITorture Methods
The use of wire to cut through meat and bone is an extremely agonizing form of physical torture. Furthermore, she uses needles on Aoyama while taking pleasure in cutting deeper into his flesh and bone. Asami likes the pain that she inflicts on her victims because that is how she identified with herself throughout her life. She said that pain is the only feeling and thought be trusted in a world filled with lies.
As Asami is about to die on the floor of Aoyama’s house, her head is turned to the tortured Aoyama. She then recites every single word she said during their second date like an robot. Not only is this extremely eerie, but it implies how much she’s been memorizing every single conversation they have had and how she tailored his responses in accordance to Aoyama’s liking.