Wacky set pieces don't quite redeem this bondage-themed dark comedy.
Hitoshi Matsumoto (Japan, Midnight Madness)
Thursday, September 12, 11:59 p.m.
Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard Street East)
Friday, September 13, 11:30 a.m.
Scotiabank 9 (259 Richmond Street West)
Saturday, September 14, 9 p.m.
Scotiabank 10 (259 Richmond Street West)
Hitoshi Matsumoto needs no introduction in Japan, where he’s well known as a comedian and TV host. R100, his fourth directorial effort (the name is a play on R-18, the Japanese equivalent of an NC-17 movie rating), is clearly the product of a very particular sense of humour, though it’s unlikely to find favour with anyone not prepared to laugh at sadistic sex play, over and over again.
The film follows Takafumi Katayama, a Japanese department store worker who unwittingly delivers himself into the clutches of Bondage, a secretive BDSM club with a gimmick: instead of waiting for johns to visit, the organization’s black-clad dominatrices stalk customers like sexy ninjas and administer comically harsh discipline at unexpected moments—in restaurants, on playgrounds, and even at home.
Things escalate when Katayama, titillated but tired of all the random assaults, tries to cancel his membership, only to find himself the target of increasingly supernatural forms of humiliation. (The action never devolves into mindless brutality, but some stuff that happens to Katayama’s grade-school-aged son may have a few TIFF-goers wishing they hadn’t brought dates.) Despite all attempts to up the ante, though, the film is essentially one joke repeated ad nauseum. That and a few distracting stylistic decisions make it much less rewarding to watch than it could be—though the twisted humour and elaborate bondage-themed set pieces will doubtless have Midnight Madness viewers on their feet.