A movie review of “R100”: A meek salaryman hires an army of dominatrixes in this Japanese fantasy described as a gleeful gross-out.
Rivers of spit and acres of shiny fetish wear glisten in the Japanese fantasy “R100,” a gleeful gross-out in which a meek salaryman hires an army of dominatrixes to do their cruel worst.
The salaryman, Takafumi Katayama (Nao Omori), signs a contract with a sadism emporium that promises regularly delivered pain.
Writer and director Hitoshi Matsumoto does his best work in the early scenes, starting with the coolly unnerving opening in which a professional punisher, the Violence Queen (an astonishing-looking Ai Tominaga), after prepping in a bathroom (those shoes, those cheekbones!), bursts into a restaurant to pummel Takafumi.
‘R100,’ with Nao Omori, Ai Tominaga. Written and directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto. 100 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In Japanese, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
The suddenness of the assault, as well as the Violence Queen’s impressive scissorslike leg skills — in towering heels and fishnets no less — pop the movie to abrupt, throbbing life, like a defibrillator. And so it goes as again and again, in the street, in a van, in a sushi bar, some menacing beauty kicks, slaps and scares Takafumi into paroxysms of ecstasy.
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Some of these encounters are absurdly funny and well executed, as one Amazon after another enters, jerking the movie and the sad, dreary Takafumi to life. There are clever touches, including the sadism emporium, where the dominatrixes stare down from their overhead perches, a display that at once brings to mind an old MGM revue and Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison.
But a little punishment goes a long way, especially for the rest of us, yet on it drags, torturously, slap, kick, slap, kick.
Matsumoto, as if realizing that viewers might need to wake up, stuffs a ball gag in a child’s mouth and throws in some reflexive nonsense involving an old director and some critics who seem to be watching the same movie you are. They think it’s terrible, and finally it’s hard to disagree.