Sunday, April 13, 2014

LOVE EXPOSURE (2008) - Sion Sono

This is my second go-round with Japanese cult director Sion Sono after streaming Strange Circus a few months ago and getting a taste of his style. I was intrigued enough to proceed and figured, hey, why not jump into the deep end with his four-hour ode to first love, upskirt photography, religious cults and cross-dressing. But maybe I should've been more cautious, gone with the 99-minute Suicide Club instead.

Watched over two nights, Love Exposure was kind of a blur. It's a twisted coming of age story about a generally well-mannered kid who wants to cheer up his priest father (his mother just died) by confessing more interesting sins to him each night at dinner than everyday "unpure thoughts." So he gets involved with a gang of hooligans whose specialty is the aforementioned panty pics, which they then sell to a porn company for cash. This leads to cross-dressing disguises, which leads to him meeting the girl of his plaid-skirted dreams during a street fight while he's dressed as a woman. Tootsie/Three's Company type misunderstandings and comic subterfuge ensue. But that's only half the movie. There's still another two hours to slog through. And that part is mostly a drama.

Like Strange Circus, Love Exposure has some compelling ideas/perversities floating around in it. But two things killed it for me: the pacing and the random kung fu. The first half of the movie plays out through multiple narrators, complete with chapter breaks (Nymphomaniac anyone?), like a novel that's being speed-read to you. Later it slows down (or, better yet, bogs down) yet generally preserves the same style at a much more sluggish pace. Also, there are pointless kung fu fights interspersed throughout. I know martial arts helps you sell your movie in all territories, but, seriously, Mr. Sono, your movie didn't need it. Why would these kids even know kung fu?

According to Wikipedia, this is the first in Sono's Hate Trilogy. Should I bother proceeding to Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance? Hmm...

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