Director and co-writer Matsumoto Hitoshi’s latest effort R100 is a dark comedy that mixes BDSM with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. The title, a riff on the Japanese film rating system (R18 is the equivalent of a US NC-17 rating), is just a hint of things to come in this indescribable, edgy film.
The story follows an ordinary “salary man” (Omori Nao) raising his young son alone whole his wife is in a coma. His taste for S&M leads him to a secretive BDSM club called “Bondage” where he signs a year-long contract for a group of sexy, latex-clad beauties to humiliate him at random moments publicly throughout his daily life. But when their sex play becomes more and more violent and unpredictable, he finds that he must seek other avenues to find happiness and to get free of the dominatrices somehow.
The film uses a lot of CGI effects, especially on Omori’s face when he is being “punished” by the dominatrices in order to show the perverted pleasure he derives from his humiliation. It is both funny and unsettling in the disfiguring appearance it gives him.
However, at the core, R100 is an uncomplicated mixture of psychological drama and dark comedy with hints of surrealism thrown in. Omori’s overstressed business man living an average life, but with overwhelming personal problems, is flawlessly portrayed. Meanwhile, the drab and gritty cinematography by Tanaka Kazunari sets an uneasy mood, even in the increasingly bizarre setting during the film’s fourth act, which aids Matsumoto’s balanced and surreal direction.
R100 was mostly filmed on 16mm in the Super 16 format on the Arriflex 16 SR3 Advanced camera utilizing Zeiss Ultra 16 and Angenieux HR lenses. Some scenes were shot in HD with a GoPro HD Hero 3 and Sony CineAlta F65. The film arrives on Blu-ray from Drafthouse Films in a 1080p AVC encodement, and right away one can tell it is from a film source, and a 16mm source, given the high level of grain and a somewhat soft detail in foreground shots. That said, it looks very organic and no video noise can spotted, neither is there any issue with edge enhancement or compression noise. The color palette is muted, but shadow and contrast is solid.
We get a Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack that is wonderfully balanced and atmospheric with full and clear dialogue. The surround channels carry mostly some low-level atmospheric sound effects, but the mix works, with its blend of dialogue, classical and EDM music.
- Digital Copy
- Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:38)
- Drafthouse Films Trailers
The Definitive Word
A dark and unsettling comedy that exposes the stresses of modern living and lampoons the indie filmmaking world at the same time, R100 is that unique sort of art that defies labeling, revels in its naughtiness, and leaves one thinking when it’s all over.