on 31 October 2009
Fun, shocking/provocative, stimulating, charged with emotion levels few works of art ever achieve, where do you start when commenting on a tour de force like Love Exposure?
A superb view of modern teenage angst on par with Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day in its depiction of lovetorn teenagers in crisis, this is also a film inviting comparison with Kung Fu Soccer, Tsui Hark's The Lovers, Tender is the Grass, Bad Lieutenant, the Graduate, or ...Porkies. Go, run, fly and see this extraordinary film about the coming of age of a pure soul who finds true love (and an impressive boner) through the travails of sinful under skirt ninja-style photography, (yes, I know) and fights a brainwashing cult -led by short skirted japanese nymphets-, mistaken (sexual) identities, abduction and madness to be united with her.
Like his principal character, Director Sino Sion manages to do all the wrong things for all the right reasons: few are the films whose actors deploy so succesfully such levels of physical and emotional intensity: fans of Samuel Fuller will relate to the raw intensity and frankness whilst others will enjoy the bawdy humour worthy of Hong Kong category III.
PS don't believe the sleeve that mentions a 4 hours running time, I found the film way too short and will probably see it again as soon as tomorrow...
Yu (Takahiro Nishijima), Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima) and Koike (Sakura Ando) are 3 teenagers who meet through some inexplicable events and circumstances, forming a complex and unusual relationship.
At the epicentre of `Love Exposure' is a story of love, sex and religion, and literally everything else inbetween. We follow Yu, who's deeply religious mother died when he was young. His mother gave him a statuette of the Virgin Mary, to present to his ideal woman when he grows up. Yu's father Tetsu (Atsuro Watabe) becomes a priest. Tetsu tries to get Yu to confess to his sins, but Yu has none, and becomes increasingly frustrated at his fathers obsession. Tetsu faces even bigger challenges from the unwanted advances of the promiscuous Kaori (Makiko Watanabe) who won't take no for an answer.
Yu faces no choice but to commit sins to please his father. He joins a group of delinquents who introduce Yu to a bizarre pornographer who instructs him to raise himself to a new level of consciousness by perfoming various martial arts whilst taking photographs of young girls' panties! Yu's only getting warmed up, as he first falls in love with Yoko, a young girl who hates men! Worse still, she becomes his stepsister. Throw in the evil Koike who works for a cult called the `Zero Church', this parakeet-loving vixen enjoys nothing more than coercing Catholic families to join, and Yu's is her next target.
Where do you start with `Love Exposure', a twisted love triangle which often defies categorisation? Bonkers ad infinitum doesn't come close to defining this film, which whizzes from extreme gore and revenge to manga style action to the sweetest teenage love story, only the Japanese could get away with this. Just take Yu, who at various points is a cross dresser, a murderer, a porn-star, an asylum patient, a martial arts expert, a pantie photographer, a terrorist, and still has time to woo the affections of Yoko!
I have no idea how director Shion Sono has managed to glue this often subversive film together, but he's managed to do it with style and good humour. Brimming with ideas and some brilliant lines, with so many characters and storylines, flashbacks and fantasy sequences, Sono still maintains a strong narrative throughout. `Love Exposure' may be 4 hours long (trimmed from an original 6 hours!) but it flew past.
`Love Exposure' is warped, profane, cringe-worthy, romantic, disgusting, violent, whimsical, and even spookily profound. With so much entertainment on tap, Sono still manages to weave together topics such as parenting, religion, brainwashing, sexual intolerance, and even questioned our attitudes to perversion. `Love Exposure' may border on the insane, but at its heart is a love story, done with so much fun and tenderness in a way that truly has to be seen to be believed.
on 6 July 2010
The poet turned filmmaker, Sion Sono, continue's his celluloid thesis based upon the Japanese youth culture with adolescent relationships being his primary objective this time around. His latest offering is not a shockfest in the same vein as Strange Circus or Suicide Club but it does have the same bizarre elements that feature prominently in all his previous flicks with the exception of the Mitsuko character which has been dropped this time around and replaced with the male equivalent; a troubled adolescent boy named Yu.
Takahiro Nishijima is cast in the lead role as Yu; his delirious portrayal of a young man with an identity crisis, desperately seeking affection, is truly exceptional and holds the whole film together; he has more charisma and screen presence than Tatsuya Fujiwara (Death Note, Battle Royal); he looks very convincing and strangely attractive in his alta-ego role - the fist swinging, roundhouse kicking Ms. Scorpion. After the death of his mother, Yu has two main objectives: to win back the affections of his father, who's lost his way in the Cristian priesthood; and, to find his one true love. In order to achieve his goals, Yu sets up his own peeka-panty club, with his delinquent friends, and transforms himself into the ultimate pervert.
On this new path of self destructive enlightenment, Yu will encounter an evil, manipulative cult leader named Aya (Sakura Ando) and a feisty young man-hater named Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima). Sion Sono introduces the three main protagonists seperately; in a similar fashion to Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs; revisiting the same timeline from each individual characters own point of view until reaching the present situation at hand. The stage is now set for one of the oddest battles for affection and desire you're likely to see, with all three of the dysfunctional characters becoming entangled in a bittersweet game of rivalry.
The second part of this four hour epic changes tone drastically; the outlandish humour is swiftly replaced with a dark, scathing scenario similar to the one played out in Sion Sono's other flick: Noriko's Dinner Table. This truly outstanding examination on the trials and tribulations of the strong emotions we humans associate with the word love, serves to enhance the vastly talented Auteur's reputation as one of the best Asian directors to have emerged during the Noughties. Buy, buy, buy, it's guaranteed to be one of the strangest movie experiences you'll encounter all year.
on 11 August 2011
I first encountered Love Exposure when it was aired late night on Film 4, at almost 4 Hours in length (237mins Approx) This film might conjure up ideas of being long winded, you couldn't be more wrong! You will wonder where 4 hours went!
I cannot recommend this film enough. Obscure it may be but there's something here for everyone. An essential watch for any Hikari Mitsushima fan. If you're wondering who Hikari is you are missing out on some amazing performances (see Kakera - A Piece of Our Life [DVD]  and the brilliant Sawako Decides [DVD])
This film deals with Love, Hurt, Sex, Peek-A-Panty Photos, Cults, Street Fights, Sin, kidnapping to name a few subjects. This is a real "Cinema Gem". If you haven't seen this film BUY IT! You won't regret it!! If you do regret it (please send it this way)!
This DVD is presented by Third Window Films (check out their other releases there's some great stuff).
I love the 'Making Of' it gives you a real insight into the making of the film, scenes with Hikari Mitsushima are particularly entertaining as you follow her journey in making the film.
This film sits proudly in my collection next to films by Hitchcock, Kubrick and Argento.
This DVD will leave you hungry for more, I've already watched it 5 times (6 if you count the Film 4 showing), It never gets old!
This insanely long Japanese farce is like Tarantino when he was cool and not a bombastic bore. The hyperactivity; the visual flare; the flamboyance; the surprising choice of music; the unexpected twists and turns. It's completely crazy but utterly compelling.
Yu loses his mum, and then loses his priest father to a nymphomaniac whose disappearance causes him to become obsessed with the idea of sin. Yu has no sins to report, which disappoints his father, so he is forced to reinvent himself as an acrobatic voyeur in order to have something to confess. Then one day he finally falls in love, but someone else is pulling his strings. A complex web of lies, half truths and corrupted good intentions, ensues.
This is a mad satire - I suppose - on religion, the family unit, the cliches of popular asian cinema, pornography. A bit of everything. The cast play out of their skins. I wouldn't suggest trying to sit through it in one go but do make an effort to see it. Blood, panties and perverts, but it's not as shallow as that sounds.
on 24 January 2014
I must admit I came to this film with some expectations, considering all the good reviews -- I am no stranger to Japanese cinema and I deeply respect the works of Shohei Imamura or Nagisa Oshima, just to pick two examples.
In short, I came out of it rather disappointed: the plot felt over-laboured, the photography is average, the music poor. It might be the blu-ray transfer but the colour is not inspiring and does not support the plot, the photography seems to entirely disregard lighting as an art... Not to mention that not being shot handheld would help most scenes. If the conceptual foundation behind the plot was strong or the characters remarkable this would be forgiveable; I do not feel it is the case there.
Mind you, the film is not devoid of intelligence, just that the gems are lost in a thread of noise and indecision.
I don't like a mystery when it comes to going against an apparent consensus, so I set out to understand what is making people so crazy about this film:
- Could it be the transgressions of religious values, sexual norm, gender roles and the family model? I am not certain that this can be unless one comes from a sheltered conservative background. Most of it feels farcical to me, what is somehow constructed gets blown to pieces minutes later.
- Could it be the reversal of social retribution: in most of the film, acting in an antisocial way brings fulfilment and development while acting in a decent way brings misery. Maybe a rebellion against the group before the self mentality?
- Could it be people getting excited about domination and panties?
It must be meant for another audience with different fantasies, different life expriences and a different cultural background.
on 28 November 2014
For those not familiar with Japanese cinema this film is a great introduction. The quirky, risqué humour and macabre elements are very entertaining and the two main characters are played with great sympathy. An excellent film for an adult audience.
on 27 November 2015
TOTAL MASTERPIECE and sion sono's best movie,so far imo. Highly recommended for anyone that is a fan of sono's work and Japanese cult cinema in general. 4 hours long but well worth the time. One of my top 10 fave Japanese movies of all time. The third window films bluray also has awesome pq and includes tons of special features.
on 30 January 2013
First I rented the DVD and after watching, bought the Blu-Ray.
Amazing and big differences. The picture quality in general is better, more detailed but also details Sion Sono wanted to show and are part of his artistic expression. E.G. one scene when Yu confesses his sins to this father in the church, always when Yu is shown, the picture is blurred, his father is perfectly in focus.
Or the sound: DTS HD MA and man there is bass on this track - also as an artistic expression, a very disturbing sound, no explosions.
All this adds in my understanding strongly to experience Sion Sono's ideas completely.
Thank you to HD and Blu-Ray.
The movie on Blu-Ray really makes a difference compared to the DVD. For those who like this film, I can strongly recommend the Blu-Ray. For the DVD, you are missing a lot.
on 21 February 2010
I normally only watch films by classic Japanese directors and don't bother with much modern Japanese cinema because it is simply flash, gory or shallow. But while this movie begins in a similar fashion, about two hours in it changes gears and becomes emotionally affecting. Yes it dwells on perversions and is as violent as Kill Bill in places but eventually it dawns on an open-minded viewer that there is a humanistic and strangely Zen-like message in its anti-utopian, iconoclastic approach to the strictures of Japanese society, family life and institutional religion. And its celebration of dysfunctionality only helps to emphasise this point. In summary, I profoundly disagree with the negative reviews posted on here. This is one of the few modern films that has the profundity and depth (though quite deliberately none of the subtlety) of Ozu, Naruse, Mizoguchi,Kurosawa,Yamanaka, Shimizu and other great Japanese auteurs of the past.