Jason believes I have become jaded. Within the last year or so, after having seen movies like Deadgirl, Antichrist, and Eraserhead, it's no wonder I can view a movie like Visitor Q and not want to curl up an cry like Jason said I was going to. Prior to this one, I've seen a total of, I believe, 2 and a half Takashi Miike films: Audition, The Happiness of the Katakuris, and half of Ichi the Killer. He's known for being one of the ballsiest and most disturbing directors out there. I can see why. While Audition is seemingly his most famous, Visitor Q always gets tossed around in discussion, as well. It's a look at reality, voyeurism, and taboo. And I do mean taboo. The film explores, among other things, incest, S&M, lactation, scat, necrophilia, as well as domestic abuse and bullying.
I can't really give you much of a story. I'll try: After Father (Ken'ichi Endo) has sex with his estranged prostitute daughter (Fujiko), he begins his travel home, only to get beaten over the head (twice) with a rock by a random man, Visitor Q (Kazushi Watanabe). Meanwhile, we're also shown his son (Jun Muto), an abusive boy who likes to brutally assault his mother (Shungiku Uchida). Visitor Q decides to stay with the family for a while and just hang out and watch their goings on. During this time, Father--a shamed reporter--decides to make a big story out of his son's life, as his son is getting bullied at school, and it's carrying over to their home.
This is not the movie I was expecting. I was waiting for blood and guts and evisceration and something twice as hardcore as Audition and Ichi the Killer, as Jason promised me those didn't even hold a candle to this one in disturbingness. Don't get me wrong; this movie is definitely disturbing and bizarre and not on a recommended watch list. Just take a gander at that list at the end of the first paragraph again.
But the reason I was able to handle all that here was in its tone. I mean, how could I be so disturbed by necrophilia and abuse in Deadgirl, but this one makes me want to laugh? It's all in how the movie sets it up. It's hard to take a movie seriously when the family is working together, pouring vinegar into a bathtub over genitalia because they got lodged together during rigor mortis--and it's followed up by a cartoonish "pop" to let us know the guy is free. Also, it's hard to take seriously a woman bringing herself to orgasm standing in a trash bag dress as she massages her breasts, milking herself... while Visitor Q sits nearby quietly with a see-through umbrella. Is that stuff totally freakin' bizarre and disturbing? Yeah. But the way it's presented is so non-serious that I have trouble feeling really anything besides "Um, OK... this is freakin' weird." And that's just two things of many others I could list.
But did I want to curl up and cry after it was over? Did I desperately need a hug? Not even close. It's a movie I certainly won't forget, that's for sure. But, again, I can't go around recommending it lightly, either. It might present itself, at times, as a very dark comedy (like Miike's own Happiness of the Katakuris)--and, in fact, imdb actually lists it as a comedy, then drama, then horror--but it's still a movie that will bother a lot of people merely due to its many subject matters.
I'm conflicted in my rating, though. I don't want to give it a positive rating; the first 45 minutes are pretty boring and uneventful, and the subject matters of the bulk of the film would make it too weird. I don't want to give it too negative, either; despite everything, the film is put together well, and Miike always knows what he's going for in a movie... I think. But does it deserve a full WTF? I'm not so sure. It definitely makes sense as a movie, and you can follow the story and the characters, even if what they're doing is completely bizarre or unrealistic. Also, I haven't even mentioned the fact that the first 10 minutes, plus a handful of other moments, is basically porn. Literally. I didn't like or hate the movie, and I'm almost disgusted that I found a lot of it funny (not knee-slapping funny, but "this is so WTF you can't help amusement")--but I think that was part of Miike's point. So I guess I'm stuck with this rating regardless.
(P.S. I really want to avoid giving this rating this whole month, but I couldn't help it here. I'd feel either dirty or wrong giving it any kind of formal rating. Sorry.)