The title R100 is a joke on the ratings system because director Hitoshi Matsumoto (Big Man Japan, 1997) claims that no-one who has not lived a century will understand this film. Such a pronouncement is in keeping with the striving absurdity of the movie, which is frequently funny, but overall a slightly laboured litany of craziness.
A docile furniture salesman signs up with an S&M club and accepts that for one year, shiny leather-clad dominatrices may show up at any time to beat, whip or even spit him into blissful submission. These unexpected encounters are as amusing as one might hope. He’s not allowed to cancel his contract, however, so of course that’s what he finds he wants to do, once they start involving his child and his coma-ridden wife. Thereafter the confrontations escalate. But there’s no humanity here at all, so the pathos of grandpa weeping at his daughter’s bedside is wasted, particularly given the absurdity of their eventual fates (the weeping is no more than a sarcastic joke, as it turns out, and not really funny).
A more interesting movie threatens to emerge when the title card appears halfway through and we cut to a trio of casual suits (Censors? Distributors?), the first of several interludes where they dim-wittedly question a pair of young representatives for the film’s 100-year-old director, the group having just watched the section we have just watched. But it’s all just another gag of a piece with the interviews of dominatrices around the “Water Longe” pool, amusing enough, but with no metafictional power.
The notion of joy obtained through extreme submission is nicely, if uglily, realized through a simple rippling CGI effect and bulging cheeks (the leached-out color is also strikingly unattractive), and the film’s best gag combines those throbbing concentric rings with Beethoven and the stave-like slats of the wooden shed where our hero gets his ultimate kick at the hands of an impressive giantess. The approach to S&M seems to be fearful and sneering, however, rather than approached with understanding or fondness, which leaves one with a slightly sour taste. A frippery, entertaining enough, but unable to live up to its extravagant claims, and that too is a self-justifying part of the joke.
AFI FEST festival film page: R100
Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Screenwriter: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Producer: Akihiko Okamoto
Executive Producer: Hisaya Shiraiwa
Cinematographer: Kazushige Tanaka
Editor: Yoshitaka Honda
Production Designer: Etsuko Aikou
Music: Hidekazu Sakamoto
Cast: Nao Ohmori, Mao Daichi, Shinobu Terajima, Matsuo Suzuki , Atsuro Watabe