Directed by: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Written by: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Cast: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Lindsay Howard, Nao Ohmori, Eriko Sato
So I saw a lot of weird movies at Fantastic Fest. R100 outweirded all others, and it did so with a ‘haha I got you’ smile. Before I get into this, I need to mention the dearth of information surrounding this movie. Despite the fact that it was just picked up by Drafthouse Cinema, there’s no complete character list, so I’m going to have to describe the main players and hope you can keep up as their names are impossible to double check. Now that’s settled. Let’s get into this movie.
The film as we see it is actually the rough cut of a film that is being introduced to a group of producers by a one hundred year old director. Throughout the film, the producers meet outside the theater to discuss what they’ve seen so far with increasing doubt. One of the producers asks whom the audience of this film is supposed to be. He is told that it’s only meant to be understood after you’ve lived for a hundred years. Having seen the film, I’m pretty sure even when I’m a hundred years old (and living in a tube of blue liquid like Luke Skywalker on Hoth, or Novak Djokovic always) I still will not understand this movie.
A salaryman in Japan has a wife in a coma. He lives alone with his young son. In order to add some spice to his life, the salaryman goes to a mysterious club. The club offers one deal, and one deal only. You sign up for a year, and throughout that year dominatrices will appear throughout your daily life and hurt, punish, and otherwise do dominatrix things without warning. The opening scene shows the salaryman at dinner with a lady, who promptly kicks him in the head. Yeah, it’s like that.
As the movie continues, the salaryman is exposed to increasingly intense forms of sexually motivated torture. Not like Hostel torture. Just lots of weird behavior. This ranges from vocal imitations to so much spitting, and lots of tying up and hitting. After weeks of unending harassment, the salaryman tries to back out of his arrangement. Unfortunately, part of the agreement is a clause that says you’re in for the year no matter what. His attempt to escape the deal provokes greater attention from the club. So much so that it even affects the kid. When the spitting lady confronts the salaryman in his home, there’s an accident, and she dies. The full power of the club is unleashed. Things get out of hand quickly.
I want to make it clear that I liked this movie a lot. I’m pretty sure it accomplishes whatever its goal is pretty definitively. Director Hitoshi Matsumoto is a comedian in Japan. His work is often compared to things like Jackass, and that control over physical movement on screen comes through clearly. I think that may have a lot to do with what exactly the movie is making fun of. The movie plays with the desire for physical danger in cinema, whether it’s shocking, exhilarating, or hilarious it’s a regular feature in the movies we watch. R100 gleefully mocks that impulse in a way that maybe we’ll never really understand until we’re one hundred years old.