Mark’s review of Old Boy starts with the warning that This film contains material that may offend some viewers. Miike’s Visitor Q should really carry a warning that This film is chock-full of material that will definitely offend almost everyone.
Miike’s a weird guy. The theme that underlies most of the film is bullying, but it’s handled in a very Miike way: think John Waters does All About Lily Chou-Chou and you’ll be surprisingly close. Nothing is taboo to Miike: drug addiction, lactation, bullying, incest and necrophilia all get their day in the sun. If there’s nothing in this film that makes you go “Euuuwwwww” then you’re probably not human.
But for all of the obviously shocking elements, there’s a surprisingly serious message. Most of the central characters suffer from some form of inadequacy, and no-one is in control of their lives, except the mysterious visitor. And while it’s possible that Miike meant to make a simple schlock-fest, there’s no doubt he’s making use of some problems that are prevalent in most modern societies to do it. It’s a little like Sabu’s Drive in that respect, except that Sabu is more lyrical and much less savage. Both films, however, do use fantastical devices to illustrate a story based on the vicissitudes of ordinary life.
Another aspect of modern life that Miike pokes fun at is “reality” TV. There’s very little that’s real about reality TV: few of us have been locked in a house for weeks and forced to carry out arbitrary exercises while being taped constantly. Kiyoshi’s plan for a reality programme based on the daily traumas of his own family, on the other hand, is about as real, or as unreal, as it gets. And Kiyoshi’s use of this planned programme about bullying, to recapture the career that he lost through bullying, is an attempt to gain some control over a world that’s out of control.