Love Exposure DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.5
Video 8.5
Audio 7.5
Special Features 2.0
Total 8.0
Distributor: Madman
Classification: MA15+
Minutes:
Reviewer: Simon Black

8.0


Love Exposure

Sion Sono is unlike any other Japanese filmmaker of the present age.  From his 2001 breakthrough Suicide Club, a dark and utterly beguiling exploration of youth suicide in Japan, to 2005’s near-flawless work of Grand Guignol grotesque Strange Circus, Sono has established himself as an auteur of unrivalled scope. 

His central tenets are usually quite dark, revolving around themes of guilt, forbidden lust, incest, gender confusion and religion, and in this regard Love Exposure is no exception. 

The film stars the excellent pop star-turned-actor Takahiro Nishijima as Yu Honda, a teen haunted by the death of his mother and his subsequent search for a Virgin Mary-like substitute.  Yu’s father deals with the death by turning to religion, eventually becoming a priest and enthralling his congregation with his joyous, inspiring sermons.  As time goes on Yu’s father becomes increasingly obsessed with the notion of sin, and Yu finds himself going out of his way to commit sinful acts he can subsequently confess, this being the only form of father/son bonding the demented patriarch shows any form of interest in. 

Though it begins as an exercise which he can later bring up during confession, Yu shows a surprising aptitude for one very particular, very illegal vocation – taking illicit photographs of women’s underwear.  He quickly forms a gang of like-minded perverts, who stealthily practise their craft on hundreds of unsuspecting women each week.   

One day, having lost a bet as to who’d taken that week’s most beguiling panty shot, Yu is forced to dress in drag as he accompanies his friends down the street.  There they happen upon Yoko, an angry, man-hating schoolgirl who is being accosted by a group of hoodlums.  Unfortunately for the troupe Yoko’s hobby is finding groups of males and beating them up, a fact which the gang soon discovers.  Yu and his cronies join in the fracas, and Yoko quickly falls in love with Yu’s alter-ego ‘Miss Scorpion.’  Complicating matters is the fact that Yoko’s mother and Yu’s father are dating, and as the tangled affair plays out the results are as startling, original, funny and perverse as one would expect from a filmmaker who began his career as an avant-garde poet and who once made a film about a serial killer looking for an affordably-priced room. 

Despite its four-hour runtime Love Exposure never drags, and its cast of characters are all so likable in their idiosyncrasies that their bouts of bizarre and self-damaging behaviour seem entirely plausible within the context of the whole.  The film has been touted by some critics as Sono’s masterpiece; for my money that distinction still rests with Strange Circus.  It is certainly an accessible, vibrant and vital outing for the filmmaker, and one that highly recommended for fans of Japanese film or the avant-garde in general. 

The feature appears to have been shot on digital in order to minimise costs, and so looks necessarily less filmic (or cinematic) than some of Sono’s previous efforts, but the clarity of the picture is excellent throughout and the colours are sharp and clearly delineated.  The Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio is also perfectly respectable, and the subtitles are concise and error-free. 

The Region 2 release of the film included an hour-long Making Of documentary which featured behind the scenes footage and interviews with Sono and his cast; disappointingly, this hasn’t been included in the Madman two-disc set, and all that’s on offer in the way of bonus features is a theatrical trailer.  As far as the film itself goes however, it’s one of the most unconventional and engaging love stories of recent memory. 






 
 



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