My Halloween marathon of the Halloween series kind of failed but I’m back with a book review. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough then you know how much I love the movie Audition.
I was so happy and surprised when one of my friends told me that it was based on a 1997 book by Ryu Murakami.
When she asked if I wanted to borrow it my reaction was something like, “Hell yes! Sign me up!”
The plot of the movie is remarkably similar to the movie. Aoyama is a widower with a teenage son. He’s looking to remarry at the urging of his son. His friend, Yoshikawa, suggests holding auditions to meet the perfect woman. This is how he meets Asami, a beautiful but troubled and dangerous younger woman. He falls head over heels in love with her despite the warnings of Yoshikawa who’s suspicious of her.
The book is short at only 190 pages and borders on being a novella. I can’t speak for how it reads in Japanese but the prose in the English translation is incredibly stark. Murakami spends little time on adjectives and spends more time on building the characters, especially Aoyama. In the movie, Aoyama is older, not ugly but dorky and out of step. In the book, he’s alienated from contemporary Japanese culture and spends his time reminiscing about the past. His work and hobbies are mostly focused on the past, whether it’s listening to classical music or convincing a renowned pipe-organist to come to Japan for a concert.
In the movie, after Aoyama and Asami spend a night together at a resort, Asami disappears and he never sees her again until she hunts him down and tortures him. What I liked better in the book is how explicit it is about how much Asami’s disappearance hurts Aoyama. He searches for her for months and you really see him deal with the depression of losing someone he’s in love with without an explanation that he can understand.
There are two scenes in the book that get treated very differently in the movie and I thought that was an interesting contrast. I’m talking about the sex scene between Asami and Aoyama and the scene where Asami tortures Aoyama.
First, the sex scene. It’s incredibly brief but uncomfortable in the movie. The movie doesn’t really show the sex but you watch the scene and you realize that Asami is really weird. In the book, it’s about ten pages of rough sex and it’s brutal. I don’t mean that it’s rapey, I mean more that it’s between two incredibly damaged, lonely people.
Now, the torture scene. In the book it’s about twenty pages but it’s nowhere near as explicit as the movie. Honestly, the last thirty minutes of Audition are where the movie really shines. Everything in the movie basically leads up to this one part where you find out exactly what happened to Asami and what she does in her free time. It’s beautifully filmed, hallucinatory, and terrifying. What happens in the book feels like an outline but what happens in the movie feels fully fleshed-out.
Here’s the Audition segment from Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
That’s honestly the main critique of the book. It’s so short that it can feel like you’re reading a screenplay. But I also consider that the mark of a successful novel, when you want to know everything about the characters and everything that happens.
I recommend this book for fans of the movie but I’m not sure if it stands alone for people who haven’t seen the movie.