Fantastic Fest Review: R100 Will Kick Your Ass And You Will Thank It

Evan's favorite Fantastic Fest entry.

I only have hyperbole for R100. It's that kind of film. This year's Fantastic Fest has been full of favorites, likely some I haven't even experienced yet. But this is the one. Of all the films I've seen here, actually of all the films I've seen in the last several years, this is the one I most want to shove in people's faces simply because watching others watch it for the first time is the closest I can get to watching it for the first time again myself.

As explained in the film itself, the title R100 is an indication that only viewers who are 100 years old can understand what's going on. I have a feeling an experiment testing this theory would result in a lot of dead people. R100 isn't dirty in a traditional nudity, sex, and violence sense. In some respects it is actually quite tame. But it is kinky. So kinky that the kink gets its own kink, and before you know it, the film advances into whole new stratosphere of vaguely sexual strangeness unlike anything you've ever seen before.

The film begins simply enough, however. A regular Joe type guy enters a one year contract with an S&M service which provides him with random public beatings from random dominatrices, each with their own specialty. He can't touch them back, and he can't end the contract early. So everywhere he goes, he never knows when a pretty lady in black leather will come beat the shit out of or otherwise humiliate him.

At first he loves it, as indicated by eyes that turn all black and shift upward and ripples of ecstasy that emit outward from his face. But before long, the girls begin intruding too deeply into his personal life and refuse to stop. With jaw-dropping speed, this infraction mutates into an all out war between the man and the S&M company. And it is one weird-ass war.

R100 isn't all crazy S&M gags. The man's situation as a pervert has a relatable and moving foundation, which grants him our empathy. Earlier than you might think, R100 disconnects from recognizable reality, but this anchor keeps us far more interested than we would be in, say, a later John Waters film. This is kink, perhaps the most exaggerated illustration of raw kink ever put to film, but I don't believe it ever resorts to kitsch.

R100 is such a huge, weird step up from Hitoshi Matsumoto's already wonderfully strange and awesome Big Man Japan. Matsumoto's comedy genius is massive here, utilizing a dizzying spectrum of joke types and structures to keep you constantly engaged and eager to keep watching despite the film's increasingly shaky narrative ground. I don't know how else to put it. There are jokes here that won't just make you laugh so hard it hurts. They're good enough, both in design and execution, to actually earn your awe while you're trying to breath.

I would not recommend reading much about R100 before seeing it. The film's quality does not rely on surprises, but there are some good ones, and Matsumoto executes them with such skill and patience that accidentally spoiling one would be a shame. Just know that it's an aggressive comedy steeped in thoughtful weirdness and glorious kink, and it has one of the greatest Greek Choruses of all time. See it as soon as you get the chance. If you can somehow double feature it with Sion Sono's outstanding Why Don't You Play In Hell, all the better.

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