R100 is easily one of the smartest and most absurd comedies you will see this year. The story revolves around the unexpected turn that the life of a mild-mannered family man, Takafumi Katayama (Nao Ohmori), takes when he joins a mysterious club known as “Bondage.” Far from your typical S & M club, Bondage has a series of strict rules that all clients must adhere to. Some of these rules include: clients must always be submissive; all activities must take place outside of the club in real-life settings; and there can be no cancelling midway through the contract.
At first Takafumi finds great pleasure in the series of public humiliations and abuse that the numerous dominatrixes employed by Bondage inflict on him. However, when things start to get a little too close to home, Takafumi decides that it is time to get his life in order. Part of this means cutting all ties with Bondage. As the fight for his freedom wages on, Takafumi soon finds himself in the crosshairs of not only the club owner (Suzuki Matsuo), but also the fearsome CEO (Lindsay Hayward) of Bondage.
Director Hitoshi Matsumoto crafts a comedy that may appear scattered on the surface, but is actually surprisingly layered and well constructed. The film is incredibly self-aware which allows it to provide a refreshing take on the sex comedy genre. There are many recurring gags in the first half of the film, take the “earthquake” references for example, that pay off big in the latter half.
One aspect I quite enjoyed was how Matsumoto, in one of the many self-referential moments throughout the film, questions his own lack of logic, and overall continuity, of the events occurring on screen. He amusingly puts himself in the shoes of the audience one minute and then hilariously dismisses these types of questions by pointing his answers towards the film’s title; which in itself is a nod to a film within a film running gag. Instances like these are what make R100 ripe for repeat viewings.
It also helps that Matsumoto offers plenty of genuine, and very amusing, surprises in the film. Whether it is the increasingly bizarre dominatrixes Bondage employs or the great deadpan characters, such as the cop who compares S & M to Pro Wrestling, R100 always keeps the viewer on their toes. Due to the type of absurdist comedy on display in the film, and certain grotesque moments, R100 may not suit everyone’s taste. The fact that the film runs twenty minutes longer than it needs to will also annoy some viewers. However, if you are willing to take a chance on something truly original and entertaining then you cannot go wrong with this film. R100 is one of the more daring and wildly original comedies you will experience this year.
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