Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Cutting Edge of Censorship; Films

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Cutting Edge of Censorship; Films

Article excerpt


AUDITION . Cert 18,115 mins

IN the Daily Mail the other day Andreas Whittam Smith, president of the British Board of Film Classification, was reported as saying: "I am not, by nature, a censor. "Of course not:he is one by appointment. He then went on to warn us against the snapshots of nude children in the Saatchi Gallery that have currently caught the censorious eye of the vice squad: "I listen to the police with respect, "he added. I frequently listen to Mr Whittam Smith with disrespect, especially when told that cinema violence is decreasing. I see more films, week in, week out, than he does;and screen violence is not decreasing, only mutating. Into what it is presently mutating you can see in a Japanese film like Audition.

Up to the halfway mark, I thought this a remarkably self-confident thriller in Fatal Attraction mode.

It takes its time to lead us into the entrapment of a middleclass widower, a movie producer, who holds an audition ostensibly for a new film, but actually to select a new wife. A shy, quiet girl in virginal white, with a voice as soft as tinkling water, seems to fit the bill; soon he is getting to know her better. This method of selection, with its emphasis on "obedience ", is considered an offence to womanhood by the frenzied harpies who founded Women 's Lib and prefer women to assert their gender identity by going around shooting men, like Thelma and Louise;but I saw only mutual tenderness and need in the relationship that cancelled out the man 's slight deceit.

Then, very gradually, director Takeshi Miike's little film implants doubt about the bride-to-be in the man's mind, and apprehension in mine. The sight of something inexplicably shocking I 'm not telling what as we watch the girl, head bowed, patiently awaiting her suitor 's telephone call, is the prelude to entering most unusual territory. …

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