When I get really excited for a film, I try to avoid spoilers at all costs. I won’t watch the trailer, turn my head when an extremely descriptive review appears, and try to go in with as little knowledge prior to the screening as possible. R100 was no exception. After its release at the Toronto International Film Festival, I saw so many positive reactions on Twitter and on various websites that I knew I had to watch it, and I had to go in blind. All I really knew about the film was that it’s a dark comedy, and I couldn’t have been more wonderfully surprised.
Titled R100 as a jab at the Japanese rating system, this comedy unleashes every offensive angle it can in under two hours. The movie follows a man named Takafumi, who spends his days lulling through life, no longer able find joy in any aspect of his existence. He’s left alone to raise his young son after his wife falls into a coma, and his tedious job as a salesman fills the majority of time with dull boredom. Looking to find a little fun, he heads to an S&M brothel unlike any other. Instead of the usual planned punishments, this place specializes in random interactions, with the element of mystery acting as a stimulant. Initially, the sexual surprises are happily welcomed. Whether it be a dominatrix kicking him in the head with her stiletto in a coffee shop, being yanked into a van in the streets, or being tied up and gagged, Takafumi is ecstatically overjoyed to be beaten and satisfied through the use of pain. That is, until the queens start making advances in inappropriate places, like in his own home, with his sleeping son in the other room.
Oddly enough, and whether it was intentional or not, the film brought up an important topic — people who practice sadism and masochism aren’t taken seriously most of the time when they report sex crimes to the police. Because many do not understand the pleasure in receiving and implementing harm on others, they dismiss any cry for help as a strange person getting more than he or she bargained for, and rightly so. It’s an unfortunate truth, that should be recognized. Any unwanted sexual act should be taken seriously when it proves fatal enough to report to an officer of the law. However, the film only briefly mentions this point, and moves on, because the focus of the film is finding the humor in erotic expeditions.
This bizarre tale of a man exploring his sexual fantasies, while trying to maintain a socially acceptable lifestyle is one of the most hilarious, off-putting, ridiculous comedies I’ve ever seen. Just when you think director Matsumoto can’t go any further, he shocks you with an even more outrageous, racy, side-splitting gag. R100 is pure comedic B-movie gold, because it ventures out into a category that is deemed socially unacceptable, while keeping the humor present through the entire feature.