Saturday, February 4, 2012

Love Exposure

A complex, trashy, tonally scattershot, extraordinarily intelligent satire, "Love Exposure" is exactly what its title indicates: a 237 minute examination of the thorniest, deepest passions you can imagine. Unlike many filmmakers who'd try to pull something like this off, Sion Sono has a very good idea of what he's doing. He's chosen his setting and characters carefully and orchestrated the chaos with a deft touch. He's constructed a story that expands to spacious (though not as large as I'd originally expected) parameters and then contracts back to what would be incorrectly termed "simple." Nothing here is. Nagging questions get raised and, brilliantly enough, stay as loose ends. No one gets an easy way out. But no one is made an easy target either.

Yu (Takahiro Nishijima) is the son of two devout Christian parents. His mother, soon to pass away, instills in him the notion to find "his Maria," to which he sticks adamantly. His father, Tetsu (Atsuro Watabe, the most emotionally captivating actor here) driven by the grief, becomes a priest, which satisfies him for a while. That's until Kaori (Makiko Watanabe) comes into his life. And, as Yu notes, things change. She's madly in love with him and is tempting him away from the priesthood. She ends up leaving, which dampens the father's mood and turns him nihilistic and didactic. This sends Yu on a path to become the King/Prince of Perverts and an exceptional dirty photographer. And on, and on, with more characters coming into the frame and an intense love, make that two intense loves, make that three (four?) intense loves, and a cult, and...

The film grows ever the more layered, while doing its best never to abandon its center. I was very amused at times (such eccentrics as Tag Yuji are hilarious), but most often horrified and disturbed by the film's themes of reprogramming and rejection, sexually and religiously. The ending may seem like a relent, and perhaps it is slightly, but while giving an arguably unearned satisfaction, it also left me a lingering dread about a character's sense of free will. Submission is the fate for all, the film seems to be noting, and for all of its inconsistencies, minor missteps, and overplayed musical selections, this deeply affecting, unsettlingly absolute philosophy gives the film an unforgettable hurt. A-


Anonymous said...

Hey man. I appreciate all these reviews. My wife and I never watch a movie until you've reviewed it. You're a critic god. Best of luck to you in your quest (you want to be a movie critic right?). Anyways follow your dreams man. I'm sure there are a lot of agencies that would kill to have you on the team. My only complaint is that you don't update often enough. I FEED OFF YOU MAN!!!

Nick Duval said...

hahahahahaha this actually was funny