When asked to contribute a film to the ongoing LoveCinema project, Takashi Miike must’ve sat down and had a good hard think about it all. Love, he may have pondered. What in the hell might that all be about, anyroad?
For Shakespeare, love was a many splendored thing. For Aerosmith, it was something what went on in an elevator. For Miike, the director of Audition and Ichi The Killer, and who averages four flicks a year, it involves incest, lactation, necrophilia and folks getting killed with screwdrivers.
God fucking bless Takashi Miike, is what.
Visitor Q, or LoveCinema Vol.6, is concerned with “the family”, and through a series of highly inventive vignettes we are invited to muse upon this radical redefinition of just what “Family Love” might entail.
The film opens with the question, “Have you ever done it with your dad?”
Thankfully, the viewer doesn’t have to ponder this too much, since a second later, a naked woman appears onscreen, captured via a handheld camcorder, enticing the fella off screen to come ahead and get it on with her.
The fella yacks about “No, no I can’t, it’s wrong”, but she wants him to get the trousers off and get on with the sexing.
It is revealed that this young lady is a prostitute, and the fella in question is her father, a television journalist who is attempting to make some kind of film about “the youth”. Simultaneously, the daughter is snapping away with a digital camera, so the sequence plays out via three mediums; Miike’s camera, the dad’s camcorder and the daughters digital photography.
As an opening scene, it’s enough to grab a motherfucker’s attention, for sure.
We next see the father sitting by a window, when for no apparent reason a fella leans in and smacks him in the head with a rock.
Next thing we know, this gravel-flinging motherfucker is invited to stay at the victim’s house, with no discernible motive, and he wanders around in and out of the various melodramas what ensue, be it the bullying of the teenage son, or the fact that the teenage son takes out his anger on his mother, whipping her with some kind of wooden rod whilst she screams about “I told you, not the face” and he yells about “This is the wrong kind of toothbrush! Do you want me to get bleeding gums?”
Ten minutes have scarcely passed, and already you feel like someone just crawled onto your shoulders and shagged you in the earhole. It lurches so violently from the deeply disturbing to the genuinely hilarious that a motherfucker could get whiplash just from watching the damn thing.
The Visitor proceeds to hang out with various members of the family, helping the dad to capture footage of the son being kicked asunder for the ongoing documentary project, and helping the mum to liberate herself by teaching her how to lactate at will.
At one point, The Visitor sits on the floor, holding an umbrella over his head, as milk sprays around the room and, um, sex fluids drip from between the matriarch’s giddy thighs.
I’m guessing you ain’t never seen no shit like this in a legitimate feature film before. I know there’s all kinds of porn flicks about Umbrella Fetish 7 and Lactation Nation 69 and so on, but this here is a proper cinematic affair, with actors and a real script and social concerns and everything.
How many social concerns were addressed in Debbie Does Dallas? About three, I’m guessing, which is a laughably inadequate number of social addresses.
The rather perplexing point to be made here, is that The Visitor brings unity to the family not by teaching love or understanding, but by convincing them to join in the bizarre, often highly distasteful shenanigans that each member is involved in.
It’s like some kind of perverted version of The Fantastic Four, with each member of the family having their own super-power, be it the Incredible Milk-Squirting Mother or Whip-Boy, The Teenage Psychopath.
Film Critic Chris Campion has compared the film to Pasolini’s Theorum, what concerned itself with an outsider infiltrating a family unit and, via the sexing and seduction, liberating their repressed libidos.
Visitor Q, however, as Campion notes, heads off in the opposite direction, with the violent influence of the outsider actually working towards bringing these folks together, right up to the stunningly beautiful and yet highly discomforting final sequence, where the mother breast-feeds her two grown-up children in a greenhouse.
As ever with Miike, the whole thing has the potential to be unsettlingly nasty, or even reactionary in both its treatment of women and also that final notion of the family unit being repaired.
What keeps all this at bay, however, is the sympathetic depiction of each individual, however fucked-up, the fact that the men are even more demented than the women, and also the deeply uncomfortable vein of black humour running throughout. It’s impossible not to laugh when one character gets, ahem, “stuck” during a bout of necrophilia, but you feel a bit naughty for doing so. I mean, come on, man, this is rape, murder and gross-violation we’re talking about here, but oh look, he thought she was getting turned on but no, the corpse just shit over his leg.
Visitor Q has a lot to say about the relationships between family members, be it when the mother injects herself with heroin after the beatings at the hand of her son, instead of facing up to her responsibilities and doing something about it, or when the dad gets over-familiar with his daughter by way of rescuing his failing career.
He talks also about journalistic codes of conduct, as the dad stands smiling whilst his son is being forced to take a shit by the bullies on the other end of the camera lens. There’s something else going on there, something about the artificiality of life through the lens, if you like, how the dad has no emotional contact to the events he is capturing, seeing it only as “great footage”.
Which is especially ironic given that the subject of his documentary is how he feels about his son being bullied.
It mirrors that other classic of extreme satire, Man Bites Dog, most notably in a sequence wherein one character maps out bits to dismember from a corpse, whilst another chap captures it all on video, like it were a Blue Peter project or something.
And here’s one we made earlier, motherfucker.
Whether or not you “get” it, I guess, depends upon your tolerance for the kinds of mayhem depicted. Even nudity tends to put me off a film, and yet here I am, thoroughly fascinated and laughing out loud at a flick what has reporters being raped with their microphones or people sawing a kids head open with a kitchen knife.
It talks about hypocrisy, and like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it seeks to subvert the notion of the family as the ultimate achievement for civilised society. Here, family members beat each other, fuck each other and help each other get their willies prised from rigor-mortis stricken corpses, and the “love” that is expressed in the films conclusion is simply a result of rewriting the accepted etiquette for familiar bonding and getting right back to the animalistic desire to feed on one another.
Holy shit, man. What a fucked up barrel of malcontents.
And what a fucking brilliant slice of demented, Bunuel-esque satire.
Good work, Takashi Miike
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando