R&A by JL: Love Exposure

Sion Sono’s Love Exposure is a unique masterpiece, to say the least. At 4 hours it’s a challenging film – yet I’ve already seen it 3 times before and seeing it first time on the big screen was the 4th time I’ve watched the film from the beginning to the end. I have already written two reviews on my older blog and I think the more recent one is probably as good as my review of this mindboggling film will ever be. Here is my review that I wrote on the 15th of May after I had seen it for the second time:

I reviewed Sion Sono’s Love Exposure (2009) last December after I had seen it for the first time. I finally decided to rewatch the epic 4-hour film now that I own it on DVD. The film doesn’t lose even a shred of its tremendous power on a rewatch. The experience of watching the film for the first time was so involving that I mostly forgot to approach it more analytically. During this rewatch I received the chance to fix that and the film still holds up as one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.

Essentially Love Exposure is a love story. Try to imagine the most absurd and convoluted love story ever made and make it one that is intensive and interesting for 4 hours – then you are close to understanding what Love Exposure is like. Add outrageously funny jokes, an exploration of religious problems, crossdressing as a serious story device and a lot of other things. Love Exposure explores so many different directions it’s a miracle that it is even coherent.

Even though (obsessive/delusive) love is more like a frame story in Love Exposure it is also an important, central subject/theme in the film. As the title suggests the film is about “being exposed to love”, but the film adds its own twist to it by exposing love to a few of the most mentally screwed characters of the decade. The conflicts and problems of organized religion are approached via moral corruption and amorality that is guaranteed to disturb anyone. It really tells something about the film’s perversive screenplay that panties and hard-ons are used as significant motifs for self-discovery.

Not only does the writing switch constantly between different moods (tangible drama/tragedy & laugh-out-loud comedy), the form is very flexible as well. Visually Sono employs interesting techniques on different occassions: Tarantino-esque editing and camerawork, long take aesthetic, modern shakycam (surprisingly well done in the right context) and even splitscreens. He knows exactly when to pause the chaotic madness and lets the audience catch their breath – and even then the plot marches forward at an insane pace. The soundtrack also reflects the various moods by alternating between Yura Yura Teikoku’s charming psychedelic rock and classical music.

Due to its enormous length the film relies a lot on its young cast. Nishijima, Mitsushima and Ando perform superbly – and even though Nishijima does most of the heavy lifting, the ladies steal every scene they are in. Weirdly enough that never distracts the audience because Sono manages to make it feel fitting/justified.

Love Exposure is Sono’s magnum opus in all possible ways: it delves into heavy themes while retaining his interest for gore. It’s one hell of a tour de force for everyone involved in the production because it is utterly complex yet surprisingly simple and understandable at the same time. It’s not only a technical exercise in complexity and absurdity, it’s also emotionally involving to the point that it becomes a truly enjoyable catharsis for the viewer.

Seeing it in a theater with a great audience made the film even better and I still keep finding something new and interesting in this complex and breathtaking film.


About Oz
A Finnish film buff who has taken a huge interest in language and Japanese cinema. Can be contacted via email (johlauri@hotmail.com), Twitter (@OzymandiasJL) and a Private Message on EvaGeeks (Oz).

One Response to R&A by JL: Love Exposure

  1. Pingback: The 23rd Helsinki International Film Festival – Rakkautta & Anarkiaa « Forced Perspective

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