Thursday, 11 August 2011

Summer of Shocks '11: Visitor Q

I’ll keep these short and sweet. I would like to do some more in-depth analysis but I’ve been bashing my head against the wall trying to find usable quotes and interesting angles for a lot of the films on my list. The internet just doesn’t cut the mustard sometimes and I'm also a touch ring rusty with writing! Advice and criticisms always welcome, I need it! :)

Visitor Q (Dir. by Takashi Miike, 2001)

Visitor Q deals primarily with the primeval relationships and hierarchies within families. The shocking content forms the vehicle for what it is a very traditional Japanese film. The films opens with a sexual liason between the father character and his estranged daughter. The father - a failed news reporter is making a documentary about teens of today. An idea of which stems from a incident where he was beaten up and raped by a gang youths. In the documentary he includes his son –Takuya, who is tormented day and night by School bullies. Vulnerable and unprotected he takes his anxieties out on his drug addicted and sometimes prostitute Mother. A mysterious stranger by the name of Q enters their lives after smashing the father over the head with a rock.

Though the group may seem the most dysfunctional set of individuals that could possible exist but beneath the many layers they mirror the typical family. The adulterous husband, the insecure son, the runaway daughter, and the unloved mother. Through the acts of extreme chaos with the help of the visitor, the family are bought back together. One scene involves the wife trying to remove her husbands manhood from a naked rigor mortised corpse in the bath. After successfully doing so by means of injecting the father with drugs, they both joyfully kill the son’s bullies with an axe. This scene and the ones following, argue the strength of older women as being the glue to family harmony. Demonstrated aptly by scenes involving copious amounts of breast milk. As peculiar as Miike’s approach to this subject is - it mirrors that other Japanese filmmakers who dealt with family in a more traditional way such as: Ozu, Mizoguchi and Naruse.

The film is intended as a black comedy. An extremely dark one but still a comedy. I’m personally not a huge Miike fan. Ichi the Killer failed to interest, Dead or Alive felt too rough and Happiness of the Katakuri’s a bit too haphazard for my liking. Q has it’s own share of problems. It’s extremely low budget - filmed digitally with the look of a documentary making the scenes all the more realistic and uncomfortable. A good thing from that perspective, on the other it distances the viewer from the characters and from the actions as it’s made clear that we’re watching through the lens of a camera. Understanding what’s going on is difficult for the first half an hour so. It moves at a wicked pace. Rarely letting anything settle down and simmer away, unlike another of his films - Audition. Which is a masterclass in restraint.

Not always easy to watch, not always enjoyable. It’s visceral and completely uncompromised, but it comes with a contemporary message in hand.