Film Review – Love Exposure (2009)

If you’re like been a fan of Japanese pop culture it’s been a journey of many great times but also a journey of many stressful when those who don’t understand the finer  details attack unselfishly. If we where to choose a sole representative to let the world know the reasons why we love this culture, Sion Sono could be an ideal spokesman with his film Love Exposure may do the trick to convince the non believers.

In a style of a cooking Tv programme get a big bowl throw in plenty of kick-ass martial arts action, a tablespoon of Humour, scratching of religious cults, a slice of sexual perversions, boy meets girl, a litre of porn barons, family relationships. Give it a good mix before adding Sono’s tender mix of voyeurism and don’t forget to add upskirt panty shots, give it 4 hours in your DVD or Blu-Rayer result a film that has a lot to offer.

Yu (Takahiro Nishijima) has always been a well-behaved kid probably due to his devout Christian upbringing but when his mother dies torment prevails. Because of Yu’s upbringing, it forces him to confess his sins on a daily basis however he is a normal kid and has no legitimate sins to confess. Determined to become a true sinner and appease his demanding priest father who’s just been seduced by a woman whose broken his heart. Yu finds the ultimate sin, Porn trains to become a sneak upskirt photographer which gets the attention from his father he’s been seeking. After loosing a bet with his sinner pals Yu is forced to dress as a girl (Sasori) and its this time he meets a beautiful girl Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima). Their first time together was glorious ending the night with a kiss, all-out street brawl but that’s not the end of it Yoko thinks Yu is a woman and both maybe been manipulated by a devious cult leader named Aya (Sakura Ando).

Going back to that famous saying from Alfred Hitchcock by judging a film by the strength of your bladder, Love Exposure maybe touching 4 hours running time which may not agree with some bladders. However we have an advantage the great film maestro didn’t have, DVD/Blu-Ray players. That epic running time may be a putt off for many people however with your remote control you can play this film in parts, pause but with Love Exposure it provides an entertainment value that you will only pause to refill your glass (or empty your bladder) as it’ll keep your grip on your tv screen.

When I chat to fellow cinephiles and when Sono’s name is introduced to the mix if it’s not Suicide Club for many fans the stepping stone into his world is Love Exposure. Ironically myself it was Coldfish then Suicide Club been my route into the deranged mind of our cordial Japanese host.

Love Exposure is that satirical homage to those non-believers who call Asian/Japanese as perverted and satanic (2 things I was labelled by a friend of our family when I was 15!). It mocks those who ridicule the culture but also mocks how sexually repressed the Japanese are too.It’s ridiculous to think this is the same nation who privately liberated  sexually, have machines on streets that provide everything from  your favourite soft drink  too worn School uniforms. Sono really taps into the dark underlinings of his nations obsession with eroticism, but he approaches the topics in an astute but humorous kind of way.

What we mustn’t forget here Love Exposure is a teen romance/coming of age story also, which really highlights when it comes to falling in love, love does work in mysterious ways or in Son’s film absurd ways. Life isn’t simple but with love comes hurt too. This is no Mills & Boon story there are no saints but those we label sinners really are saints who have lost direction to be the saints, we need direction and religion is one way to find the right direction. Living in a country  where religion has brought chaos and order (Scotland), I’ve seen the good and ugly side which gets a little upsetting when a person cant practice a faith without prejudice. Someone can be a devout follower of a faith but following a religion where God is treated more like a rockstar is quite funny but also unsettling reminds me of Dogma and the Jesus statue in shades  pointing at you. When your soul and mind are damaged you can fall prey to who use religion for other means making you opened to easy persuasion.

Those stories you hear about Sono been the master Nihilist, king of voyeurs Love Exposure is a perfect example of why he’s worthy of those titles. Sono presents Love Exposure like one of those old naughty peepshows, undefined, seductively addictive, engaging, absurdly humorous but passionately gratifying. How many films these days can tick all the boxes for film satisfaction? Not many but Love Exposure can and it’s why it’s worthy of being called an essential piece of contemporary Japanese Cinema.

Paul Devine | ★★★★1/2

action, comedy | Japan, 2009 | 18 | 6th August 2012 (UK) | Third Window Films |
Dir:Shion Sono|Takahiro Nishijima,Hikari Mitsushima,Sakura Andô

Originally Posted at Cinehouse |22nd August 2012

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