Movie Review of 'Love Exposure' - Sian Sono's epic

Language -Japanese
Genre - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Action
Release - 2008

If you are familiar with the controversial Japanese film-maker Sion Sono's works such as Suicide Club, Exte, you might have an inkling of what to expect from Love Exposure. Clocking at nearly 4 Hours (that too trimmed at the request of producers, original cut was apparently over 6 hours long), this is Sono's epic. Though this is the first film from Sono's 'Hate' trilogy, others being the critically acclaimed Cold Fish (2010), and Guilty of Romance (2011), it'll be egregiously unfair to confine the film to a single thematic element. This is a saga of love, romance, religion, family relations, teenage angst, abuse, and sexual perversions.

Despite the running length, the movie was a critical hit at the international film festival circuit winning numerous awards. The movie got it's biggest recognition at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival winning the Caligari Film Award and FIPRESCI Prize for Sion Sono.

Takahiro Nishijima, member of the J-Pop band AAA stars as Yu Honda, son of a devout catholic priest Tetsu (Atsurô Watabe) who loses his mother early on in the film. She exacts a promise from Yu to introduce her to the love of his life Maria, whenever he finds her. But before he can find Maria, he has to sin as often as he can to get his priest father's attention, who has grown distant and committed to the service of the lord. Struggling to find new ways to sin, he is introduced to the art of 'up-skirt' photography. Soon, he finds himself regarded as the gold-standard of the perverse art.  

The kung-fu style art-form is one of the most ridiculously absurd visuals that you would witness in cinema, and Sion Sono seems to relish it with extended shots through the first hour in his film.

Yu does eventually find his Maria, a schoolgirl Yoko Ozawa (Hikari Mitsushima), but while he's in a disguise as Miss Scorpion (result of a lost bet with his friends). They fall in love, Yoko and 'Miss Scorpion'. To add to Yu's troubles, he's a pervert in the eyes of Yoko's after his voyeuristic skills are exposed by a manipulative teenage girl Aya Koike (Sakura Andô), who's also a cult recruiter for 'Zero' church' with the agenda for converting Yu's father. To call the plot-line of Love Exposure complicated is a massive understatement. 

Despite the contrived pleasant ending, this is a movie so convoluted and full of surprises, it hardly matters when you reach there. It'll be a stretch to call this a 'masterpiece', but it's one of the most unique pieces of film-making you're ever likely to witness.