Reviews of Love Exposure
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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 with a unique religious context, that of the Catholic Japanese. Its a film so long, and so full of ideas, that its hard to remember everything that happens and in what order, its a bit like trying to recount the last ten years of your life to a stranger. The plot is fairly bizarre. Yu is the son of a priest who falls in love with his step sister, Yoko, whom he sees as the Virgin Mary. Yoko, however, seems to regard Yu with disdain. She is infact a lesbian, and in love with her adopted mother, Yu’s step mother, Keiko. During the course of the film, and for various reasons, Yu finds fame as an ‘upskirt’ porn photographer and also creates a female alter ego whom Yoko falls in love with, not knowing that its him. With the arrival of the mysterious Aya, the head of a sinister cult known as Zero Church, and who has become strangely infatuated with Yu, things start to take a darker turn as it becomes a love triangle of rejected youth. Love Exposure left me emotionally drained. At times incredibly sad, but also very funny.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
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 either engage in (or are subjected to; which is, of course, also a hallmark of his films). Fans of Sono’s work will see other overlaps: the secret society/cult plot; an extreme desire to belong, be loved, give love, preserve love, the importance of love; the chapter/voice-over structure that he’s so fond of using; etc.
(And re: his use of voice-over: Having watched, in the past four months, Noriko’s Dinner Table, Guilty of Romance [the cut version, unfortunately], and Love Exposure, it boggles my mind a bit the degree to which Sono employs the voice-over. The fact that it migrates as the film progresses, from character to character to character, is a great device, but I can’t shake the feeling that it does, at times, become a crutch. Unnecessary exposition of what would be obvious, or at least guessable, without it. I honestly don’t recall from the times I watched Cold Fish, Strange Circus, and Suicide Club whether they too featured the use of voice-over so extensively, but man-o-man, Sono, take a step back!)
Much of the movie also resembles a Shakespearean comedy of errors, where the characters are constantly mistaken about each other’s gender/identity, each other’s motives, each other’s love. This comedic tone comes up again and again in the film, often played broadly (the main character’s near-pneumatic member, e.g.). The film repeatedly shifts tone from goofy/cartoonish to earnest/complex. And it is the movement between these two poles—cartoon violence and emotional pain/perversity—that remains at times difficult to process; the wild swings that still seem, in certain sections, problematic. (Or, if not “problematic” exactly, then at least a problem to always know how, as a film, it is meant to be read.)
It is, at the same time, a startlingly audacious film—audacious because of how directly it tackles two of the most potentially controversial aspects of Japanese culture: religion and perversity. It would take me a while I think to come up with another movie I’ve seen dealing so earnestly with the tenets of Christianity. (E.g., when’s the last time a movie devoted that much screen time to reading and explicating 1st Corinthians 13? And the degree to which doubt—fueled by depression, the flesh, whatever—corrodes any ability to remain in the faith?) Likewise with how much time is spent really wrestling with perversity/pornography/“hentai” as a characteristic of Japanese pop culture. (And whether this is a good or bad thing.)
And then there’s the ever-present question when it comes to a Sono film: How much of it veers off into exploitation—out-and-out titillation? I remember reading a review of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive that argued it was a great film—an “authentic” work of art—but that it was also guilty of pandering. The review argued that the inclusion of the lesbian scenes (particularly the nudity in the lesbian scenes) was more run-of-the-mill “dirty old man” than anything to do with the film’s psychosexual world view … I don’t know if I agree with that, but I do think quite a bit about it while watching Sono’s work. They always verge on that territory, sometimes in service of the greater art work, sometimes (I’m inclined to think) not.
Having said that, the film is epic: epically religious; epically painful; epically perverse. One can only hope that Sono will continue to make such films.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
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 is just groundbreaking in any way possible. shit, this is the fastest 4 hours of my life in such a long time. The pace is never get slow, the story always have a quick turn. And while i understand that this film is not for everyone ( Panties everywhere, extreme violent, controversial religious theme arc), but i just feels the urge that, EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS FILM. trust me, it’s a unique experience. With a feeling of surrealism of manga-like world,.effective use of music, and a mind-blowing and horrifying scene ( There’s a scene that just make Antichrist looks like a donald duck movie), this is, in my opinion, one of the best Japanese, heck, one of the best film that i’ve ever seen !
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
One of the best Japanese movies to date. Sion Sono beats Quentin Tarantino at his own game and is creative and original besides. The film gets a little over the top and could possibly be trimmed down a little. However it succeeds and is more engaging than 97% of all other films released in the last year, and with a four hour running time besides.
I related to some of the religious fanaticism I experienced in my youth. However, despite the deceivers and the people led astray, I still believe there are truly sincere people that do the Lord’s work. I just think Sono showcased how sometimes it can all go so wrong.
The translation of the film was good and solid for the most part. However, during the course of the film, there were some typos. Then for 1 Corinthians 13, there was the infant/child mistranslation. Speaking of Tarantino, the same thing happened in his Inglourious Basterds. Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) tells a man he is behaving like a “child” (“enfant” in French), but the translation pops up as “infant”. So when we heard the passage, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child…” it was translated as “When I was a infant, I spoke as an infant, I understood as an infant…”
While the above has no bearing on Sion Sono’s film (he obviously had no hand in the translation), it did make me wonder if the French and Japanese word for child sounded like “infant” to Americans or to English speakers.
Other than that, the film has everything: deception, vying for a father’s affection, fights (all kinds of fights), the quest for love and lust, and the jerk friends who will talk you into anything.
Overall, it’s 4/5. I highly recommend seeing it if you get a chance. I saw it with © <’,))( on the big screen and to say the crowd was pumped is a total understatement!!
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.