'R100' (Drafthouse Films)

Review: ‘R100’

'R100' (Drafthouse Films)
‘R100’ (Drafthouse Films)

Hitoshi Matsumoto’s expectation bending and quite insane R100 could only exist in the sub genre known affectionately as ‘Japanese craziness’, and only a daredevil company like Drafthouse Films would even think of playing this film on American screens. It’s crude, at times repellant, and mordantly funny, ratcheting up the sexual deviancy to levels that would make even Luis Bunuel blush.

The mild-mannered Takafumi (Nao Omuri) is leading a droll, stagnant life. He works as a furniture salesman in a multi-level retail store. His daily routine consists of work, arranging for take-out dinner to haul home to his young son, and visiting his comatose wife in the hospital. He desperately yearns for something more, which comes in the form of a company called “Bondage.”

Not only does the company provide him with a release from his humdrum existence, but it satisfies his dark desires of sadomasochism. See, Takafumi enters into a year-long agreement with the company, wherein any time of the day, a female dominatrix appears and either humiliates him, whips him, or beats him silly in public. Now one can see why I mentioned the words sexual deviancy.

Initially, the actions soothe Takafumi’s hidden proclivities, but things rapidly evolve into something deranged when the “no rules” policy not only involves his father-in-law (Gin Maeda) but his young son as well, and the procession of dominatrix figures become increasingly degrading and even harmful. The playtime turns frighteningly real, which very well may be the point of R100.

Yet finding any other buried messages within the film is pointless, something filmmaker Matsumoto toys with himself in the emergence of a very “meta” subplot, breaking up the film we’re watching with several static shots of five people in a nondescript room discussing the film and their mounting problems with the sex, violence and downright illogical narrative swerves. Acting as a Greek chorus for our own possible ruminations about the on-screen excess, they then adroitly return to the screening room and the film reel of R100 begins again for them. Unfortunately for us, there’s no such respite.

Even the title itself is an acknowledged mockery as one stunned chorus members states “the director said no one under the age of 100 will understand this film.” With that type of logic, R100 sets the stage for a weird, uncompromising jaunt through the dark corridors of some unstable individuals.

Despite all this, R100 is a comedy, albeit a disturbed one. There are moments of unhinged humor and outrageous scenes, amped up to intense levels when the CEO of the Bondage company arrives and wages war with Takafumi for reasons best not discussed here. Add to that an army of dominatrix ninjas, secret government agents and something called the Queen of Gobblers and R100 firmly establishes itself as a future midnight classic.

R100 is currently in release at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson.

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