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Original Title:
Bijita Q

Japan 2001

Drama, Comedy

Takashi Miike

Kenichi Endo
Shungiku Uchida
Jun Muto
Kazushi Watanabe
Ikko Suzuki
Shoko Nakahara

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Visitor Q

Story: Kiyoshi Yamazaki (Kenichi Endo) is a TV-reporter looking for a perfect story. He roams the streets of Japan and wants to shoot a docu about violence among teenagers. However, he runs into his daughter (Fujiko), who prostitutes herself, and he eventually makes use of the services she provides...
On his way back home a stranger hits him with a stone right in the head. From that day on this so-called Mr. Q (Kazushi Watanabe) lives at Yamazaki's home. He doesn't interfere into family affairs and also doesn't say much. He watches the mother (Shungiku Uchida) getting beaten by her son (Jun Muto) because of trivial matters, while the mother herself seeks a better life by taking drugs, which she finances by selling her body.
Yamazaki sees his son getting bullied by his classmates and wants to make a TV-Docu out of it. For this he meets with an old girlfriend, who then is raped and murdered by him. Yamazaki has to get rid of the body and takes her home. Even though the family is drowning in a swamp of violence and perversion they somehow get closer to another thanks to the strange visitor Q...

Review: There are movies that stand as a genre themselves. Takashi Miike is known as a director who always oversteps the line of good taste, who wants to shock his audience and likes to shed some light on the perversion that can be found in human nature. In "Visitor Q" he once again excels his previous works. In Japanese culture there is a whole genre dealing with sex and violence in its most abstract and sickest fashion. Not exactly something that can win my interest, but Miikes film managed to do that as it promised to have a message, too. And the movie actually succeeds in delivering its message. Aside from its explorative nature "Visitor Q" can also stand as a film of art. Even though you wouldn't think so at first, the movie actually has a socio-critical and even profound undertone, which makes this work something extraordinary.

"Repulsive" might be the word coming to mind for most viewers when watching this film. At the same time there also lies something fascinating in the way the different kinds of perversion are depicted. This is mainly thanks to the fact that the director didn't refrain from implementing a good portion of black humor into his movie. Without this humor you most likely could just shake your head about what we get to see here, and you would feel quite alienated by the time the film hits the 20 minutes mark. Luckily, Miike manages to sketch most scenes in such an overdrawn and abstruse way, that the viewer has no other choice but to laugh. Laughter that is in fact intended and which you even don't need to feel bad for, since it is the best way to deal with what we are shown. Without this laughter, which Miike thankfully allows and even enforces, "Visitor Q" would have just been unbearable. Because even though the fascination for the film remains until the very end, we wouldn't have been able to weave an emotional bond to the characters, which we actually have towards the end despite their actions, if it weren't for the irony of certain scenes.

The four main characters, namely the four family members, are in the movie's spotlight. Every one of them has his own share of problems, and director Miike bestows at least one topic of taboo upon them, which they have to carry as some sort of motif the whole movie through. Sexual perversion can be found in the father, the son depicts your typical insecure boy, who gets bullied at school etc. As time goes by all members of the family get to experience some kind of catharsis, even if in a very strange and wacky way. The mother, for example, gets her self confidence back and discovers her womanhood, while the father learns to accept who he really is. Responsible for this development is the strange visitor Q, who doesn't say or do much, yet in a way shows the family members how they really are, and in a very twisted way even gives them a little bit of the love they long for. And this even though he is merely a spectator standing at the side of this play. You can think and brood about Q and his role a lot. Somehow he seems to be from another planet and then again he is not. It seems as if his task is just to hold a mirror in front of the family's face for them to either accept who they are or change it.

On a technical level there isn't much to talk about. The movie has been shot with a digi cam, which gives the production a TV-look, yet at other times lets it look like a docu. Somehow this makes for a special style in its own right, which actually wasn't to my dislike as it is usually the case with digi-cam shot works, but instead simply seems appropriate for the movie. Especially the scenes that are shot by the protagonists themselves throw you right into the action and give you the feeling of genuiness.
The topic of sex in all of its perverted ways naturally stands in the film's foreground, because what else could be more shocking than necrophilia for example? Miike manages to bestow a certain perverted (that's a word that has to be used a lot in the context of this movie...) eroticism, yet there are no explicit scenes, of course. Genitals are blurred out, but even during the scenes that are quite repelling, we can still cope with the situation thanks to the irony imbued into the scenes, which can also make us laugh out loud every now and then.

"Visitor Q" takes us on an unbelievable, fascinating and also repulsive journey, which may not be to the taste of everyone and therefore should be avoided by those who can't watch stuff like this, but which nonetheless is exceptionally different, extraordinary and well-done. There are only few, if any, taboo topics that Takashi Miike ("Audition", "Ichi The Killer") doesn't bring up, and even though it might be frightening: perversion is a topic that most of us - actually I wanted to say ALL of us - have thought about at least once, since it is part of human nature. Miike shows incredible courage to talk about what many people even wouldn't dare to think about. For this alone he deserves my respect. To even wrap-up these taboo-topics with a somewhat entertaining exterior, which lets us take a look at all kinds of perversion with a wink, so that the audience's fascination for the film never gets lost, is an achievement worth even more words of praise.
The film's several individuals may seem strange, to say the least, but they somehow also feel genuine and real. At the end some of the family members may have become murderers, and all of them are in strong need of psychiatric help, but what can really move us is the love between the family members becoming evident at the ending, which even seems "pure" in contrast to all we witnessed before.
Controversial, repulsive, fascinating, comical and a little masterpiece...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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