Sundance always brings some films to audiences that are confusing, or non-linear, or downright bizarre. After sitting through the Japanese action-comedy R100, I have to say, this move goes right to the top of the list of the most unusual films I’ve ever seen at the festival. What popped in my head watching the story (such as it is) unfold was, “This is like what would happen if John Waters directed a Japanese S&M flick, one with a sci-fi streak.” The set-up is the most normal thing about the movie: a soft-spoken family man with a comatose wife and young son hires a firm that provides S&M activities to sate his hidden sexual appetites. The first twist in R100 is that the company the man hires, simply called Bondage, sends its dominatrices to pleasure/abuse the man at random intervals over the course of a year, and in increasingly public places. These meetings are hilarious for the audience, but eventually go too far, to the point that the man wants to quit the programearly–a no-no that he knew about when he signed the contract with Bondage. That sets up a showdown between the man and a slew of the Bondage “queens” that gets increasingly violent, and strange. So strange, in fact, that filmmaker Hitoshi Matsumoto even inserts his own film critics into R100 who pause the action to describe how nonsensical it is. Those asides are some of the funniest moments in the film, offering knowing winks to the audience about the absurdity on screen, even as the action ramps up to an over-the-top finale that would have been great starring Divine.
R100 remaining screenings:
Sunday, Jan. 19, noon, Temple Theatre, Park City
Monday, Jan. 20, 6 p.m., Screening Room, Siundance Resort
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 11:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre, Park City