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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Jun Kunimura
Director: Miike Takashi

Once in a while comes a movie of which the story sounds straight forward but when actually viewed, turns out to something completely different. Kind of what you would expect from this Japanese horror movie.

The story starts off in hospital with the wife of Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) on her deathbed. The story moves on seven years later and we find Shigeharu Aoyama living with his son Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki). Shigehiko points out to his father that he should re-marry, as he is not getting any younger. Meeting up with work colleague Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), Aoyama reveals his plan to what he wants to do but is uncertain how to approach women. Yoshikawa tells him about a movie project which he could use as a cover to call a casting session to view potential wives.

Looking through the applicant’s files he comes across a file for ex-dancer Asami Yamasaki (Eihi Shiina) and looks forward to her audition. Yoshikawa and Aoyama spend a day interviewing the 40 applicants and when it comes to Asami’s turn, he is attracted to her. He organizes another session with her and they then start seeing each other socially.

Yoshikawa is not convinced that Asami is what she says she is and after a bit of snooping around, he tells Aoyama to slow down with the relationship. Aoyama phones up Asami for another date. As we view this call, we find Asami sitting on the floor of her apartment waiting for the phone to ring with something in a very large sack, twitching, when the telephone rings. Using it as an opportunity to propose marriage to Asami, they go away for a weekend together and book into a hotel. Aoyama is willing to reveal everything about his past marriage and the deception of the audition but Asami tells him that all she wants is a man to devote all of his love to her.

Woken up the following morning by the phone ringing, the hotel reception informs Aoyama that his guest has left. Unable to find her, Aoyama tries to track her down with what little information he has about her. He goes to a bar where she used to work, only to find that the bar is closed. He is informed that the owner was murdered and parts of his mutilated body are missing. Aoyama then goes to Asami’s dancing school but finds it boarded up. Hearing music coming from within, Aoyama breaks in and finds Asami’s teacher playing the piano. The wheelchair bound teacher does not offer up any information to Aoyama but we are treated to a flashback to how Asami had received two burn marks to her legs courtesy of her teacher.

What happens next is one of the great twists I have seen since From Dusk Til Dawn.
Based on a novel by Ryu Murakami, this is an interesting study of how women are viewed in relation to Japanese men’s sexual assumption and the horrific consequence to their actions. Director Miike Takashi uses a series of time jumping sequences and puts Aoyama in the middle of key events from Asami’s nightmare past. Whether the resulting conclusion of the movie is real or something that Aoyama’s paranoid mind has concocted is something for the viewer to decide.
Not for the faint hearted.

5 out of 6 stars