Evil prankster Takashi Miike wants sole rights to your nightmares with this film. It’s based on a novel by Ryu Murakami, the one who did not write Norwegian Wood. The first half of the film unfolds gracefully and may even remind you of your favorite Murakami. Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a lonely widower living with his teenage son. He runs a film production house with his friend Yoshikawa. His son urges him to find a new wife and agreeing wholeheartedly Yoshikawa persuades him to set up a fake screen test to find a demure obedient wife. Many applicants and insulting questions later, their talent search ends when Aoyama meets a former ballet dancer, Asami (Eihi Shiina). One of the film’s neatest tricks is to convince you of Aoyama’s nice guy-ness. Even when he casually discards his house keeper/bed warmer for the prettier new model, he makes it look less scummy than it really is.
Everything seems to be going nicely and Aoyama is all set to begin a new life with Asami. Miike fills the edges with a sense of impending dread and drops in some truly creepy scenes, so you know it’s going to get dark — and yet that knowledge will not stop you from getting knocked out silly by the dynamite third act.
Fun Fact: Miike has denied that the film is meant as social criticism.
Director: Taakashi Miike