Director Sion Sono has promised that his four hour epic Love Exposure feels like 90 minutes. Unbelievably, Sono delivers on his promise with an extraordinary genre-bending epic about a self-professed “high school voyeuristic photo maniac.”
Teenager Yu Honda (Takahiro Nishijima) never expected to live the life of a peeping tom – his pious Catholic existence consisted of good works and good deeds. That all changed the day his father, a newly appointed Catholic priest, fell in love with the most promiscuous member of his church. Once this woman abandons the priest, he becomes increasingly severe, demanding that his son confess his every sin. To reconnect with his father through the act of confession, Yu embraces a life of sin. Swiftly, he progresses from committing such terrible crimes as stepping on some ants to leading a gang of thugs around Tokyo to snap panty shots of unsuspecting girls. In his determined effort to become ever more sinful, the ever faithful Yu gains the moniker, “The King of the Perverts.” During his escapades, the master voyeur falls in love with his ideal Virgin Mary, Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima). Much to the delight of the wide-eyed Yu, the thought of the beautiful Yoko sparks his first erection. Unfortunately, the presence of the malevolent Christian cult Zero Church, coupled with Yoko’s love for Yu’s transvestite alter ego Madame Scorpion, stand in the way of his true and pure romance!
Beyond the oddly affecting love story at its core, Sion Sono’s Love Exposure presents a biting assessment of contemporary Japan as a hyper-surveillant society deeply troubled by an increasingly fractured identity. Orwell, Powell, manga, and just a dash of Kill Bill collide in this one-of-a-kind exhilarating production that continually surprises while making a convincing case for the merits of the four hour narrative film.
Sion Sono (園 子温 Sono Shion, born 1961) is a controversial filmmaker and poet. He was born in Toyokawa, Aichi, Japan and is best known for his movies and avant-garde poetry performances.
After receiving a fellowship with the PIA, Sono made his first feature-length 16 mm film in 1990, Bicycle Sighs (Jitensha Toiki), which he co-wrote, directed, and starred himself. A coming-of-age tale about two underachievers in the perfectionist Japan, Bicycle Sighs settled Sono as a director with great box office success in Japan, and for nearly two years was played over 30 film festivals around Europe and Asia. In 1992, Sono’s second feature film The Room (Heya), also written by himself, a bizarre tale about a serial killer looking for a room in a bleak, doomed Tokyo district, participated at the Tokyo Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize. The Room also toured on 49 festivals worldwide, including the Berlin Film Festival and… read more
A perverse yet surprisingly tender love story; a unique, standalone, outrageously ambitious oddity; a four hour marathon not short on thematic ideas; cult religion, traditional religion, sexual discovery, family, deceit, samurai swords and voyeuristic photography all feature. Exhausting, immersive and presented so confidently – love it.
Sono clarifies that it is not enough for one to declare the 'truth' to one's self (as it arrives through deceptive force). Nor is it enough for one to actualize another as we believe them to be (Yoko actually misdirected in her beliefs, or Yu actually enacting the identity of Miss Scorpion). Only when eyes see beyond these culturally-crafted illusions, can love break the barriers that separates lovers and "siblings."
The four-hour whatsit Love Exposure reappears in New York and San Francisco.
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Two critics explore Sion Sono’s insane Love Exposure in dialog.
Above: Sono Sion's Love Exposure. Two incidents in a friend’s life inspired Sono Sion to make Love Exposure, according to the Hong Kong International
Cult director Shion Sono’s four hour epic on the human condition and the nature of love has to be one of the greatest films of modern times, and certainly of the 21st century. This is a love story… read review
What a deeply weird, deeply perverse film. And not just perverse for the obvious reasons—the upskirt/“King of the Perverts” subplot—but a more profound, emotional perversity that so many of the characters… read review
Who could have makes a plot about peek-a-panty, cult religion, transgender, psychopath, and christianity, cramped into an almost 4 hours film, didn’t get any ridicoulous ? Sion Sono could. Love Exposure… read review