Audition is so torturous the Fine Arts has to bribe viewers not to walk out.

Trauma Room 

Audition is so torturous the Fine Arts has to bribe viewers not to walk out.

Theater workers don't usually care whether you stay for the whole movie, assuming you paid admission. But Audition, directed by Takashi Miike, has prompted so many viewer walkouts in cities where it has screened that the Fine Arts Theater is giving anyone who sits through the entire film a free rental from its adjoining video store.

Audition is a bad choice for people on first dates, people who hate needles and people who like to burn incense and want to continue doing so without associating disturbing images with it. But it's a movie with a lasting impact -- stemming not only from the gore but also from the story's haunting ideas.

A film-industry mogul whose wife has been dead for seven years tells a coworker that he'd like to remarry, but he doesn't know how to meet a nice girl. The coworker comes up with the idea of holding an audition for a wife under the auspices of looking for a lead actress. The widower settles on Asami, a former ballerina forced to give up dancing because of an injury. Her perspective on coming to terms with that loss impresses him profoundly. He invites her to dinner, and the two hit it off. But soon after Asami begs him to love only her, she disappears. The mogul's search for her turns up bloody rumors and creepy people everywhere she has been.

As a result, the climactic torture scene doesn't exactly come as a surprise. But what's shocking is that Miike never favors implied violence over every horrific detail.

Maybe that's healthy. If we can sit through cleaned-up scenes of violence while munching on popcorn, perhaps a dose of this repulsive reality serves as a nauseating reminder that violence is actually quite gross.

And hey, if you make it through the whole thing, you can take home When Harry Met Sally for free. You'll feel better in no time.

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